My Story

~~David Farber was born in Chicago on 08/08/53 at 8:53pm and became a photographer at the age of thirteen. On a trip to the Florida everglades, armed only with his Kodak instamatic camera, he shot a bunch of alligators, but when he developed his slides, he found that the beautiful images he thought he had taken were so tiny the alligators looked more like small lizards than the fearsome creatures they are. That's when he decided to save enough money to buy a real camera, which he did by cutting grass and shoveling snow. On his fifteenth birthday, he bought a used Honeywell Pentax 35mm camera for $50.00, a used 135mm lens for another $50.00, a clip-on $20.00 light meter and of course, film. Over the next few years he added other photographic equipment, then turned around and sold it all for $400.00. He added that sum to other saved money and bought his first Nikon F 35mm camera, along with a medical Nikor system for extreme close-up work. David graduated from Niles West High School in June of '71 and that fall entered Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago following a pre-med program. In 1975 he received his bachelors’ degree in biology. After graduation, he went to work full-time at Allied Valve Industries, where he had worked summers during high school and college. He attained the positions of Assistant Plant Manager, Assistant Quality Control Engineer, Field Service Manager, and Head Machinist. These positions required frequent travel and the photographic equipment almost always tagged along. On September 8, 1981 David Farber's life took a dramatic turn. While riding his motorcycle to the health club after work he was struck by an oncoming car making an improper left turn. It was the one day in seven years of riding that he had forgotten his helmet. His injuries were extensive: a broken back, broken up rib cage, broken collar bone, fractured C6 vertebra in the neck, shattered cheekbone, and the right side of his skull crushed. Though he was given less than a 10% chance of surviving one night, was in a deep coma for seven weeks, in a semi-coma for six more weeks, and hospitalized for a total of 50 weeks, he recovered enough to be discharged on August 24, 1982. Since then, David has been a triplegic, able to move only his right arm. His nature studies have been limited, as are his movements, to a motorized wheelchair. It was almost a full year after his discharge from the hospital before he had the courage to pick up his camera again. He kept asking himself, "What if I can't do it anymore?" Then one day David had his parrot outside and decided to try and photograph it. Having been away from photography for almost two years and because of the disability, he took a long time setting up the shots, checking and rechecking all of the camera settings. Much to his surprise and delight the shots came out even better than before. With the aid of Mister Tool in Schaumburg, Farber designed a utility frame to hold his camera and large lenses. The next step was the design of a system to fire the camera by sipping on a tube, so that his one functioning hand never has to leave the focusing ring. It works great, utilizing a micro switch from a player piano which works by air pressure. Over the years, the rest was sometimes easy, but more often frustrating. David, a natural-born lefty, taught himself to cut mats, build frames, and do color printing up to 16"x20" in a darkroom built to his own design -- using only his right hand. "The quality control engineer inside me continually forces me to try and improve my work. Planning trips in detail, and traveling to different places to photograph the beautiful scenery, and all God's creatures, great and small, is really what's kept me going over the years since my accident." In 2004 David put on a photo exhibit at the local library. Reporter Allison Smith was assigned to cover the story for the Northwest Herald newspaper. Allison and her friend and colleague, Stephanie Book, took great interest in his work and his life. Not long after the photo exhibit they decided, with his permission, they would like to try their hands on doing a documentary. As of this writing, "http://www.lioninthestreet.com/"> is still in working progress.