It showed in his images.
Edward ‘Bud’ Vincent had that special something that photographers strive for; the ability to use the mechanics of a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera to capture that moment when a facial expression told the story, the split second of jubilation when the goal slipped past the crease, or when the light played just right to create a perfect landscape.
I discovered Ed was ill just six months ago; he wrote me an email in July, 2018, to say he had just been diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
It was hard news to hear and it didn’t quite register in my mind that this man — who I had always known to be so full of energy and enthusiasm, even as the years ticked on — could be fated to have such a cruel diagnosis.
On Valentine’s Day, just a month after his 78th birthday, Ed died.
My mind raced back through the years, to the first time I met him.
It was around 2001, shortly after he retired from a career with the provincial government’s tourism department to set up house in Harcourt, at Hollingside – in a small home on the beach with his wife, Marilyn, and their beloved dog.
At The Packet we were always on the lookout for photographers to help us cover local events.
And one day Ed showed up with a disc full of his pictures — still life and scenic shots — to ask if we might be interested in his photography.
I could tell from that small sample of photos that he had good technical knowledge of the camera, and he had that other something that not every photographer knows or does well — the ability to see things from many different perspectives.
I can’t recall the first assignment Ed shot for us but I do recall his delight — with his trademark grin — to know that we liked every single shot. Our only problem was trying to choose from close to 100 shots for the five or six we would use in print.
“Sorry about that,” he would say, often. “But I wasn’t sure what you might like so I shot a lot.”
For Ed, doing a good job meant not only getting the F-stop and shutter speed settings right but getting the photo that would tell the story, that would show how people felt, to give the viewer the mood of the room.
Ed was good at what he did.
For about 10 years or more, every Monday morning — print deadline day —we would have a visit from Ed with a disc of photos of events he had covered that weekend.
Kiwanis concerts, Air Cadet inspections, Santa Claus parades, the Winter Games in Clarenville, summer festivals, the old-fashioned concerts in Champney’s West, fundraising events, and the list goes on.
Ed returned from each assignment with hundreds of exceptional photos and, usually, a story to tell about the challenges of the shoot — low lighting in a community hall, space available to move around, and so forth — and, always, a smile as he recollected a certain moment or person that caught his attention and gave him that one photograph that stood out from the rest.
He was the first to admit that computer technology was not his forte and one particular week, when he was beyond exasperation with trying to file photos to us through a Dropbox system, he brought in his laptop and we spent an hour together as he worked to master the machine.
Beyond the assignments, Ed was always eager to talk about photography and share photos that he took just because something caught his interest.
One day I opened my email to discover a message from Ed; he had spent part of the day photographing trails of frost across his window pane. Later that week he stopped by with a disc full of his hour-long shoot. We talked of frost patterns for an hour. Those moments with Ed were a chance to slow down, enjoy nature through his lens, and be amazed at the simplest, most beautiful things.
One day he dropped by the office with another disc and, with his trademark grin, asked me to guess what was in the photo.
The image was like a mosaic — a variety of shapes and hues; the colours blending and contrasting across the photograph.
I was stumped. The subject was not obvious.
Ed grinned and told the story of how he had been walking along the beach at Harcourt, looking down, and noticed how the shale rock and pebbles there changed colour as the waves washed in and out; creating beautiful patterns with every change of the tide.
That was Ed, always looking for the different perspective; always taking time to stop and take a closer look at the things that we hardly ever notice.
I feel blessed to have known him, as a fellow journalist and as a friend.
And I have faith that from where he rests right now, Ed ‘Bud’ Vincent has that one essential thing photographers are always seeking — a perfect vantage point.