The silver frame held a photo commemorating a special occasion, once probably priceless to its proud owner, but since reduced to a green price dot asking for only $2.50.
The irony and poignancy of that image resonated with Norm Diamond, a retired interventional radiologist turned photographer. It is now the first photograph in the Dallas physician’s debut book, What is Left Behind – Stories from Estate Sales. The 112-page hardcover was published in 2017 by Daylight Books.
Thirty years of treating very ill and injured patients had left Diamond almost numb to emotion.
“I had to be very political and cold to do the very best job I could and that took a toll,” he said.
Diamond retired from his long, stressful career in 2012 and started using photography as a tool to process all that he had experienced over the years.
Initially, Diamond was inclined to photograph night scenes until in early 2015 when he stumbled upon the man in the silver frame at an estate sale in Dallas.
For about a year afterward, Diamond perused anywhere from five to 10 estate sales every week in and around Dallas. With camera in hand, Diamond documented what he found by either photographing the object at the sale or purchasing the item, always under $25, to photograph at his home studio.
“I think when I saw these things that were so evocative that sort of helped me get in touch with what I had suppressed all those years,” Diamond said.
Amongst collectors, resellers, and plain shoppers, Diamond sifted through seemingly endless amounts of things until something caught his eye whether it be an entire collection of vintage Playboy magazines neatly organized on the family hearth or a 100-year-old handwritten love letter.
Diamond sought to capture the humor, irony, and sadness he encountered on his excursions through strangers’ homes.
“It’s very intimate, yet it’s very cold in many ways,” Diamond said.