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About 31 years ago, I met one of the most important people in my life, without him I probably wouldn’t be alive to tell you this story.

When do you really start appreciating your dad? Is it when you live tens of thousands of miles away from him, and when you get a phone call from your mom telling you he’s in the hospital but he’ll be alright after nearly having a heart attack?

I received that phone call when I was on my way to work. At first after we hung up, I let the information sink in, with not much of a reaction to it.

Suddenly, after a few minutes, I started crying out of nowhere. Even though I knew my dad was going to be just fine, the fact that I could lose him hit me real hard.

The photos in this article are from a road trip we went on when my mom and dad came from Israel to  our (Rebecca and me) wedding.  This trip was only possible thanks to my dad 🙂

Click here to see the full collection

“Reflection” – on the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, we drove through Pacific Coast Highway and stopped at the lone cypress for a glimpse of the coming sunset. This photo actually won a small award.

I Love You Son

Did your father ever tell you how much he loves you? Or expressed if he was sad or excited about something? Cause mine didn’t.

Although we (my two brothers and I) know our dad loves us very much he never really told us that. I don’t remember him ever getting so excited about something or expressing any sadness. He’s always been a calm even-tempered kind of guy.

I distinctly remember telling myself “I’m not going to be like my dad.”

Guess what?! Yup, I probably am just like my dad.  If you ask anyone who knows me they’ll probably tell you I’m a calm guy, don’t really show any sadness or express excitements. Heck, I probably didn’t tell my parents I love them until I moved to Los Angeles.

Don’t get me wrong, I love how I turned out and how my life shaped itself thanks to my dad’s actions, whether they were wrong or right.

Take my taste in music for example.  I love listening to oldies from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s even though I was born in the late 80’s.  Unlike many of the people I know that could care less about that music.

Since my dad loves Elvis Presley I grew up listening to many of his songs and learned to love his music as well, which probably affected my life in more ways than I can tell.

 “Flamingo” – the first time I went to the San Diego zoo was with my parents, where I captured this magnificent bird posing for me.

 “Shallow Fall” – the first time I went to Yosemite National Park was with my parents. I had no idea what to expect. Everything and everywhere was just so beautiful. I could stop every 5 minutes to capture more and more beauty. 

Tough Love

I remember, back in the day, what it felt like to be disciplined by your father.  I’m not talking about beating with a belt or something drastic like that, but maybe a slap here and there and the usual “go to your room!” commands.  I mean, come on, if it came to that we probably deserved it.

Nowadays, the world had become too fragile and politically correct.  One hand on your child can get you as far as jail time. Really?!

Growing up, we used to have family dinners almost every evening, and just like any kid I wasn’t so excited about eating the vegetables my mom cooked. My favorite food at the time was white rice and Schnitzel (breaded chicken breast strips.)

We didn’t have disposable money really (but thank God, we’ve had enough) so my dad always insisted on eating bread with our meal and finish our food. Yup, we grew up in the “Clean Plate club.”

My dad used different punishment methods, known to everyone, like grounding us to our rooms, putting pepper in our mouths if we cursed, no TV, no computer, no friends, etc.  But I think his favorite, when it came to food, was making us stay at the table until we finished all of our food. For some reason I was the only one who wouldn’t finish his food. I guess my brothers just liked more types of food than I did (they still do.)

There were a few times when I stayed at the dinner table after everyone else left to do their own stuff. You know… watching TV, playing on the computer, talking to friends, etc.

Many of these times, my mom told me I can leave the table, while my dad was watching TV. Haha.

There was at least one time when I actually fell asleep next to my plate! I know because I remember looking at my food for one second and waking up at the middle of the night in my bed. I wonder who took me there… Hmmm… LOL

If you ask me now, I think that was a pretty interesting method of discipline. There’s nothing wrong in finishing your food so it won’t go to waste. Right?!

I never had problems with the bread. The vegetables were the real enemy. We hated each other so much! Whenever we had a pet dog (a few times) I sneaked them to the dog. Whenever there was no dog I developed a brilliant system: It included many glasses of water.

I used to fill the spoon (or fork) with the food I didn’t like, shove it in my mouth and while pretended to chew it, I’d grab the water and swallow it altogether.

I wonder if my parents ever noticed that.

Anyway, dad… mom… now you know. LOL.

 “The Pacific Lighthouse” – the first lighthouse I have seen in California is the one on Pacific Coast Highway. We stopped there for a few minutes to enjoy the stunning view overlooking the ocean.

 “The Pacific Guardian” – same lighthouse up close.

Dad’s Deep Pockets

How many times have you stopped to think, or maybe calculated, how much money your parents simply gave you while growing up?

It’s true that not everyone is “lucky” to have wealthy fathers that can buy them whatever they want whenever they want.  I know my dad could’ve bought me everything I ever wanted, but I can’t express enough of how much I’m thankful for what he could.

He taught us not to be greedy or materialistic, so we never really asked for the newest games or the best computers, bikes, cars etc.

With that in mind, he always supported us financially if he could (when it was more than food, shelter and education.) He paid for my basketball practices, my peer trips at school, some vacations with friends, weekend hangouts with friends, dates, internet, phone line, cable TV and so much more!

These are some of the things many of us simply take for granted. Which is wrong!

I think he wanted us to do what we love because he never pushed us to become lawyers, doctors, sales people… or told us we need to have a good job that will make us good money and secure our future. That’s probably the reason he even agreed to fund my graphic design studies.

Guess how much of that money he asked for… None!

 “A Good Day to Escape” – the first time I took the Alcatraz tour was with my parents. It was a beautiful day to spend there. Man these prisoners had the best view in town.

 “The Pick Up” – I thought this pickup truck was an interesting looking truck and well preserved. Still being used to this day.

Stronger Than Ever Before

As a child I have learned important lessons from my dad. The two most important ones are probably his distinctive ways of living life. One of them was “I don’t care what your friends do/say” – You know when you’re kids and your friends often times can do stuff that your parents won’t allow you to do? Or maybe comparing yourself to your friends in school (“but he also got a D- “)?  My dad used to answer “I don’t care what your friends do. They are not you and they’re not my kids. You are!”

His point of view was even deeper than these shallow things and went on to teaching us we shouldn’t care about what others do with their lives (sort of) because we’re living our own lives and not anyone else’s

It made me stronger in a sense that I became free of others’ judgmental opinions (which are usually negative.)  Which led me to do most of the things I do now, which happen to be some of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.  One of which is marrying my wife.  If I cared about people’s opinions and let them control my actions I would have never even met her.  – A bunch of religious mumbo-jumbo.

Support Is the Key

We live in a crazy world so unfortunately not every person can say they had their parents’ support. Especially when it comes to big life decisions.

I have made some very big decisions in my life, which at the time didn’t really seem as big (maybe because of the “I don’t care what they think” mindset) from when I was a kid.

At the age of 18, as an Israeli citizen, it is mandatory to join the army for a period of three years. It’s known that many people try to get out of that duty. Some succeed, some don’t and unfortunately there are some extreme cases of soldiers committing suicide (luckily it’s not a big percentage) because of that.

Once a soldier is out of military service for a few months, or they didn’t serve at all, it’s known that they may experience societal issues when it comes to judgmental friends, family members and strangers they talk to.

Heck, it can even hurt one’s love life.

One thing you should know about my father is that while I was in the Air Force, he was too. He had served in the Air Force for about 30 years.

After about one year in the Air Force, I made the decision that I couldn’t serve anymore (we won’t get into details now) so I decided to leave. Of course my dad wasn’t excited about it at all. Not to mention that he had done everything in his power (to my request) in order for me to serve in the same base he and my brother served (all at the same time.) He had to pull a bunch of strings.

He probably could have forced me to stay and finish serving but he knew I’d be miserable and depressed, so he just let it go and supported my decision 100%.

One of the toughest things for a parent is to let their kids go (leave the house) and live their lives.

One day I decided I had to change my life completely. I wanted to move to Los Angeles and pursue a totally different career path – screen writing.

I’m sure it was really hard for him and my mom, but again he supported me the whole way and made sure I have everything I needed.

Eight years later, instead of being a screen writer (I still write) I became a fine art photographer.  Photography became my one true passion in life. The thing I love doing the most!

Had I not moved to LA, I wouldn’t have become a photographer or marry my dear Rebecca.

“Painted Mountains” – these magical mountain chain photograph was taken during sunset when we drove back from the Hoover Dam to Las Vegas.

If You’re Happy I’m Happy

My father’s love for us kept his mind more open than most dads out there.  He taught us that the world can be both amazing and harsh at the same time, but he never let political views, opinions, social pressure or religion determine our lives.  He had us make decisions and live with the consequences.

Never in his life did he ever send me a letter but I’m sure if he did it will be signed “If you’re happy I’m happy. Love, Dad.”

No matter how wrong you think your dad’s decisions in disciplining you are, or how little affection you think he shows, he’s got the biggest heart and the best intentions for you to grow up and be better than he ever will be, so make sure to let him know there never was and never will be anyone better than him.

What I really wish is for my photography to be a success, so I can finally repay him for all the love and help he’s still giving me.

Since this is a special day, Father’s Day, I have decided to do something FOR YOUR DAD. I’ll gift two photos from my original collections. Simpy write (in the comments below) a story about your father, some experience that made you realize your dad is most awesome person in the world and why you love him so much.

Two of you will win these photographs.

If you love your dad and you were moved by this article, please share it with your friends, family and your dad.

And don’t forget to check out my photography to inspire your day.

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