My toes smear across the cold alpine granite one thousand feet off the ground ropeless as my hands search for the key hold that will be like triggering the safety on the this loaded gun. I can hear Bobby and his machine gun laugh in my mind as I finally reach easier ground on the Wallstreet traverse of the Grand Teton. I have many stories of Bobby Model and his sand bagged recommendations that I could probably write a book. “Tales of Model Mania” could be the name of the book and as I sat in the Cody Auditorium filled with his friends and family remembering and celebrating his life I knew Bobby was a major chapter in all of our lives. Bobby was carefree and full of spirit, he captured the world thru the eye of a camera and somehow drew people to see more then just a photo. He encapsulated the emotions of people and places around the globe thru a touch of a button and these images will be a lasting foot print of the impressions he has left behind for all of us to revel in.
“One more time” Bobby says as Mark Devries and I step foot out of the numbing waters of the South Fork river for the 5th time. Every photo has a story and this one was chilling beyond the capture of the lens. We stepped out of the truck as the snow and wind pierced every layer of clothing. Bobby hands me a pair of old Patagonia shorts. I glare at him with a blank look of disbelief and he says put these on for the river crossing I want to get a shot for the Patagonia catalog. I figure he is joking but as he walks away I realize he is dead serious and I realize being in a Patagonia catalog would be cool. Being young and wanting to make my name known in any climbers home I bought into his fabled promises of being famous. Scaling pencil shaped pillars of ice or dropping into rapids of white nightmares he would always be chanting from a dangling rope high above the action screaming “ gonna make you famous mulkey”. I knew I would never be famous but Bobby sure did make you believe in yourself and go beyond the narrow hallways of life.
Bobby slowly transitioned towards documenting other cultures, wars and basically the struggles of life. I can remember feeling like a gitty young child heading over to his studio after he would get back from his adventures excited to view the photos he had taken. He was very muted about his accomplishments and the grand nature of his travels but was always willing to share his moments with me. It was within his studio that I would become inspired to stand on the other side of the camera.
Where would any party be without “dark bow” . This side of Bobby would only be captured in moments of healthy alcohol consumption. He would become the oxygen in the room and the life of the party. It was bobby unleashed in every way and the stories behind those moments will continue on in many camp fire circles and climbing tales for many years to come.
In the last couple years of Bobby’s life he fought to regain his body back after the accident and although we all knew bobby would not physically be the same his mind was still sharp and witty. Never afraid to be honest he was always willing to see the line and cross it and he could do this in the most politically acceptable way or the most crude way depending on his audience. He surely was not afraid to live life and talk about it
As I sat in that room with all of the lives bobby had touched, I paused my emotions and took in all of the photos hanging around us and realized bobby pulled us all closer to life and love through his photography. No matter our religion, color of our skin or where you live love is the same across all lands and oceans. Its one of the few common things we all believe in and hope for in this world. Bobby your curious ways will be missed and your ability to secure not only moments in time but the emotions attached to them will never be forgotten. The focus is truly the reality of every photo and in life sometimes we just need to re-focus what were shooting for.
In June 2007, while on vacation in Cape Town, South Africa, Model suffered serious head trauma when he was struck by a chunk of concrete that smashed through the windshield of the pickup truck in which he was traveling. The region where the incident occurred is known for such stone-throwing attacks, and police there are investigating it as a crime. After emerging from a long, deep coma, Bobby worked at regaining his strength and ability to speak at Craig Hospital in Denver, a hospital specializing in brain and spinal cord injuries. After being released a year ago, Bobby returned home to Cody, Wyoming, where he was going through rehabilitation with his mother, Anne Young, his father, Robert Model, and his sister Faith living nearby.
Go to Bobby’s website for more of his work and photos at M-11.com
Bobby was also named National Geographic’s Emerging Explorer in 2006, to read more about him go to National Geographic’s profile on him here
Im not sure how many times I ran this drop for him but I remember it was too many!
I love you Bobby, you will always be with me in my adventures and always in my heart.