Photographer lived his life to the fullest
News of the apparent drowning death of Sergio Goes, a great photographer, a good man, a father and someone I considered a friend, came as a shock. Sergio was an adventurer and athlete, and it's sad, but not that surprising, that he should lose his life in the dangerous pursuit of free diving and photography a few miles off Waikiki.
Sergio took a series of funny, bordering-on-bizarre photos of me for an article in Hawaiian Airlines' Hana Hou! magazine last year. I had one of those "chicken skin" moments when I went online this morning to remember his work and came across a spectacular photo he took of the very U.S. Coast Guard Dolphin 65 helicopter that was out looking for him when he disappeared while diving with four friends on Saturday. His body was recovered by a Coast Guard cutter, but Coast Guard spokeswoman, Petty Officer 3rd Class Angela Henderson, confirmed that the dramatic water rescue shots displayed on Sergio's Web site (sergiogoes.com) are of the same helicopter used in this weekend's search.
Sergio, originally from Brazil, leaves behind a 6-year-old son but also a large body of extraordinary work that will allow his son to appreciate as he grows up what an amazing artist his father was.
I prefer to remember the fun times Sergio and I had during our photo sessions for the Hana Hou! piece. At one point, a day after I had been stricken with food poisoning, Sergio took me to a meat market in Chinatown and had me pose with the huge head of a slaughtered pig. As I've previously reported, I said, "Sergio, you know I've been sick for several days?" And he snickered something in Portuguese. He knew exactly what he wanted in a photograph. He told me to put the pig head under my arm and stand nonchalantly, as if I were just waiting for a bus. Passers-by thought we were insane. But those photos of me holding the pig head are my favorites.
We also went out to the sandbar in the middle of Kaneohe Bay, where he had me sit in a lawn chair in two feet of water while trying to hold up a picnic table-size umbrella. He thought it was quite amusing when the wind blew me over backward into the water and the umbrella began floating toward Chinaman's Hat. This happened about three times, and each time for Sergio seemed more amusing than the last. But that strange photo of a lone fat guy in a loud green-yellow aloha shirt a mile out in a bay sitting on a lawn chair became a two-page spread in the magazine. You can see it on my Web site, getlifeon.com, where he graciously allowed me to use it.
Sergio Goes was an inspiration to me because he loved his work and was one of those artists who never just "called in" an assignment. And that's why his photos have been viewed everywhere from small corporate magazines in Hawaii to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. He worked hard and played hard - sometimes at the same time - as I know he was doing that day off Waikiki when he was tragically lost.
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