I Lost A Dear Friend, Today

Today, February 16th, 2016, at 11:30 AM, while I was walking on the Huntington Beach Pier, thinking how good life is, my friend, Rick Bell was dying. I didn’t know Rick was sick. I hadn’t seen him in many years, and we had only left phone messages for each other a couple of times in recent years.

I met Rick about 15 years ago. He emailed me, asking if I needed a second shooter for when I was photographing weddings. Rick hadn’t actually photographed any weddings. Well, that’s not completely true. He’d put on a suit and drive around to churches, looking for weddings. Often, after the ceremony, the official photographer would take the bridal party to a park, for some ‘formal’ portraits. At a quite time, Rick would introduce himself to the photographer and ask if he could take a few pictures. That was his wedding experience when he contacted me. Oh, he knew his way around a camera. He had been working at an ad agency for many years, but is wasn’t his experience that caused me to agree to give him a try. I like his spirit — and he was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

I had an engagement session scheduled for the next Sunday morning, in Laguna Beach. Rick lived in Santa Clarita (north of LA), but agreed to meet me, early in the morning. We hit it off. I immediately liked him.

I can’t tell you how many weddings we shot together. Sometimes, there were three of us as Keat Elliott would also join us. We were a good team. Later on, Keats and I photographed Rick and Linda’s wedding. I used to tease him that all he was ever looking for was a free wedding photographer!! 🙂

Rick and I did this silly thing — we’d gather the bridal party on the church steps. All the guests would line up to get their own photos of the bride and groom. We needed a way, apart from absconding away with the bride and groom, to get them to look at the right camera (our cameras). Rick, with his booming voice would yell out “Cue ball” or “Eight ball”. You see, we both had shaved heads and it became pretty obvious whom Rick wanted the group to look at. 🙂

After a few years, Rick set up his own wedding photography business, and one Sunday morning, as I was walking to my favorite beach, to met a couple for their engagement photo session, I spotted a guy in a Roethlisberger jersey (quarterback for the Steelers, in case you don’t follow American football). Yep, it was Rick. He was still using ‘my’ beach — the one where we first met, so many years earlier.

Rick Bell -- Photographer, Musician, Friend (and Eight Ball)

Rick Bell — Photographer, Musician, Friend (and Eight Ball)

I hope Linda Bell doesn’t mind, but I stole this song from her Facebook page, written and performed for her, by Rick.

Rest in Peace, Rick. I love you!

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Paul, I am so sorry for your loss. I know that my life has been greatly enriched through the opportunity to meet you, to learn from you and to learn from your wisdom, humor and experiences. I am sure that Rick’s was too. You are a kind friend and a talented businessman. Thank you for all you do and for all those lives you enhance. Again, I am so sorry for your loss, and so pleased for Rick, and your mutual
gains. Much love my friend.