photo of the day 10/16/2011. photo © Mark I Chester.
This is a photo of a friend of mine, Jon Hedu. The photo was taken so early in my work that I didn't even record a date but it is circa 1979. It was taken on Corona Heights, a peak in San Francisco between the Castro and the Haight. As I look back on my life, I can see now how particular individuals have been artistic muses for me. How they have crystallized my emotional state and inspired me and spurred me on to take photographs of men. They tirelessly (usually <g>) allowed me to experiment and explore and try things, most of which never worked. But somehow through this photographic psychodrama, something would emerge that would surprise both of us. In the end, the resulting image would be far more than the sum of its parts.
Jon got sick early on in the epidemic, back during the time when someone would disappear into the hospital and would just never come out. This was before AZT back when there was nothing. It was brutal watching your friends disintegrate before your eyes and to stand there totally helpless, unable to do anything for them. It was just too much. There was so much death that some ran from San Francisco as fast as they could. The rest of us just hung on for dear life while it galloped out of our control. With all the pain that he endured, I honor Jon and his memory with this gentle, beautiful and innocent only in San Francisco portrait of a gay man without a care in the world shortly before the horrors descended upon us all.