The founder and principal of a Bay Area advertising firm for more than 30 years, Bob Ray has been around the block a few times. In recent years, he’s taken up photography—a passion that’s exposed him to elements of life many avoid. Having seen his award-winning work at New York City’s Ronald McDonald House, I jumped at his invitation to take portraits of our guests—which he’s been doing voluntarily for more than a year.
The Mendoza family is from Medford, Oregon. They’ve been intermittent guests since Brian was born prematurely in April, 2010. They were here in June after the two-year-old’s brain shunt malfunctioned and he developed an infection.
A few weeks ago, the Mendozas asked Bob to photograph them in Brian’s hospital room. Bob agreed. The result (see below) is truly remarkable.
Bob sent me this short note after the session:
I often wonder where a family’s strength comes from to deal with these situations. This one frame from today’s shoot may offer insight…
Bob confesses and captures what we all wonder—from where does such courage emanate?
As it turns out, Bob’s striking portrait is both his solitary gift to the family and their enduring gift to him. And we, the fortunate bystanders, get to share both its lingering inspiration and paradoxical lesson.
Often, the gift we give is the gift we receive. Bob gave the Mendozas an opportunity to sit for a portrait. They presented him (and us, by extension) an insight into the nature of courage.
I continue to marvel at the exchange.
Tom Soma, Executive Director
Photo by Bob Ray. Pictured: Adela and Ramon Mendoza, along with their sons (in order of age) Evidian, Christian, and Brian