Aug 22, 2011

Farewell sweet lady, Martha Murfin 1918-2011, Seaview, Wa.

Here is a column I wrote for the paper this week about Martha Murfin. With it is a portrait I made of her at her home in 2006. The story below tells of that shoot and how I think I missed a really great picture.

On the front page this week is a portrait I made of Martha Murfin at her home in Seaview back in 2006. The ocasion was the Sydney Stevens series about the “North Beach Girls,” women who grew up on the Peninsula in the early 20th century.
At that time I really had very little experience doing lighted portraiture, being much more versed in candid photography. I wanted the portrait to be nice, so I brought along a big bag of lighting stuff — flashes, light stands, umbrellas, light meter.
While frantically trying to set it all up Martha patiently passed the time by doing what you might expect, by reading a book. And this is how I lost a great picture.
You see, I was so concerned with the lighting aspects (which I honestly didn’t do very well), that I missed what could have been an iconic picture of the beloved book worm. This is because not only was she reading, but she was doing so sideways in her big wing back chair, legs over one side, like a kid might. Silly me, I had her sit up for the picture.
Martha was always very nice to me, and always let it be known how much she liked my daughter, and how pleased she was by her love of reading, something that meant so much to her. Word is that the school choir may be singing at Martha’s memorial on Sunday, and my girl is very much looking forward to that honor.
The last time I saw Martha was in June at the Relay for Life. I snapped the picture below of her as she watched the survivor lap. A few days earlier at the community meeting for the school superintendent candidates I sat with her and had a good laugh. One of the candidates came up to introduce themself to Martha, and I made sure to note that they were standing in the Martha Murfin Library, something that I know Martha was very proud of.
Martha would have been around 49 years old in 1967 when the Beatles recorded the song “Martha My Dear” for the White Album. A line at the end of the song seems particulrly appropo.
“Martha my dear you have always been my inspiration.”
To this Peninsula, and all of its kids, Martha will always be an inspiration. Farewell sweet lady.


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