Jeff in 2009.
Jeff Lamb, fellow photographer, citizen of Ann Arbor, and friend to many, slipped away from the living on Tuesday, due to cancer. It's hard to believe that he'd gone so quickly. I visited Jeff in hospice last Friday, and there were moments when I could sense a tiny bit of the old Jeff, but his condition really shocked me. I think he had been diagnosed with liver cancer only three weeks before. The previous time I saw him was in early January when we had a beer together, and afterward I saw him on the street photographing like he did so often, with his digital Leica. That was Jeff, with his floppy hat and camera, finding something interesting in everything.
Jeff always had a story to tell, and to sit down with him and talk about photography, architecture, the history of Ann arbor, and politics over a beer or two was not a bad way to spend a few hours. There was a gentleness and twinkle to Jeff's eyes that said "I'm enjoying life." In January, Jeff told me was getting into doing some new projects, and was quite enthused about photographing some parts of Detroit. Somewhat like his comprehensive survey of New Orleans neighborhoods, Detroit offered a new challenge. The decaying neighborhoods and possibilities of showing people at their best when a city is at its worst was obviously intriguing.
I can't say that Jeff and I were lifelong friends, but he had a way of making me feel like we had always been so. I suspect he had that effect on a lot of people, as many, many friends have expressed their sorrow and love of Jeff over the past few days. Jeff was a kind, interesting, and genuine person, and his wife Leyla and their dog Sonny Boy are probably missing him terribly. Who would know that when he celebrated his birthday on January 16, that it would be his last?
I am sure that when Jeff's friends gather sometime to celebrate him and his life, there will be some great stories. Probably a few will point out that while Jeff's life ended too soon, he had a colorful, interesting and purposeful life. Which, in all fairness, is the best anyone can hope for. Have a passion about something and do it, with no regrets later. So long as we remember those things about Jeff that made us smile, a bit of him is always with us.
Jeff's Flickr pages on New Orleans architecture are here.
Jeff's other Flickr account is here (Ann Arbor and Michigan).
His photography blog.