flatlander:Ode to Ode | VailDaily.com

flatlander:Ode to Ode

Austin Richardson

The title is cliche I realize.

Like a ton of snow, suffocating and cold, death came for one of my buddies.

Brad Odekirk was a friend. He helped shape the Leadville Chronicle through its images for years. There’s no shortage of characters to photograph in Cloud City. Between visitors and folks who live there, a true slice of humanity exists in the rarified air.

Journalists, particularly shooters, make cold calls for a living. They talk to strangers, unafraid to put their self-esteem on the line for a story. Some say folks can be trained for such behavior, I’ll contend it’s a gift. And Brad had the gift. He had it in a big way.

Brad could catch it. He wasn’t afraid to “roll up” on folks, smile and begin speaking. And that’s when it happened. Folks’ eyebrows would furrow a bit, like they were listening to someone whose words were important. Measured and even, his tone was unique. After a few sentences in seeming monotone, subtle inflections appeared, drawing the listener in closer.

The smile that followed sealed the deal. It was infectious. After that, all tensions were drained away and the rest was cherry picking.

It was also planned. Either conscious or not, Brad lifted the subjects’ spirits and brightened their faces. What a skill for a photographer.

Leadville is full of old buildings and old souls. A fair amount of them are heaving about those ore-laden hills east of town, restless.

I’d like to think Brad was among them, still enjoying nature and making everything seem easy. His time was up far too quickly, so there’s a ghost of chance we’ll meet again.

Austin Richardson

aka flatlander

former editor, Leadville Chronicle

Avon, Colorado

Vail Colorado

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