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Andi Buescher Photography https://andibuescherphotography.com My WordPress Blog Sat, 07 Sep 2019 19:15:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4 166122397 Summer Days PNW – Documentary Family Photography https://andibuescherphotography.com/summer-days-pnw-documentary-family-photography/ https://andibuescherphotography.com/summer-days-pnw-documentary-family-photography/#respond Wed, 28 Aug 2019 19:03:41 +0000 http://andibuescherphotography.com/?p=1611 Summer days for documentary family photography are the busy days. Summer is coming to a close and anyone in the PNW knows we take full advantage of our glorious summers here. I was lucky enough to get in three full family Feature Stories over the past few months, the Harrison family in Burien being the […]

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Summer days for documentary family photography are the busy days. Summer is coming to a close and anyone in the PNW knows we take full advantage of our glorious summers here. I was lucky enough to get in three full family Feature Stories over the past few months, the Harrison family in Burien being the second of those three.

None of my documentary family photography work is ever the same because every family I photograph is unique. This family is full of free spirits. Both mom and dad are artists and the kids seem to have inherited the artist’s free spirited nature. The beauty of it floods me with nostalgia for my own childhood. The days of zero responsibility, wild imagination, and a simple yard.

Little girl in kitchen wearing pajamas playing with baking tin on her head Little boy putting finger in mom's nose Father and young son laughing over breakfast    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Indigent Cremains Ceremony – Kitsap County https://andibuescherphotography.com/indigent-cremains-ceremony-kitsap-county/ https://andibuescherphotography.com/indigent-cremains-ceremony-kitsap-county/#respond Thu, 18 Jul 2019 17:50:37 +0000 http://andibuescherphotography.com/?p=1541 Indigent Defined Indigent: adjective.  poor; needy | noun. a needy person Working with Letitia (see this post) raised a multitude of questions for me. What happens to sick people who have no one and nothing, the “indigent?” Where do they go as they get sicker and can no longer care for themselves? What happens to […]

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Indigent Defined

Indigent: adjective.  poor; needy | noun. a needy person

Working with Letitia (see this post) raised a multitude of questions for me. What happens to sick people who have no one and nothing, the “indigent?” Where do they go as they get sicker and can no longer care for themselves? What happens to them when they pass away? Who organizes their services? Are there services?

Letitia’s services were not held until nearly a month after her passing. My search for her obituary was in vain. There wasn’t one. I didn’t find out about the services until after they had already taken place. In the end, her estranged family did end up taking care of them but, what of those people who do not have family or anyone else for that matter?

In perusing the interwebs, searching for things to photograph in my area, I came across a service honoring those people I had been wondering about.

Indigent Cremains Burial Service

The Kitsap County Coroner’s Office recently held a public ceremony to honor 14 “indigent” members of our community. Some 70 members showed up to pay their respects to those who had passed, some still unknown. The ceremony comes by way of a generous donation of Sue Brown, a Bainbridge Island resident who had worked with a man who had developmental disabilities. Upon his passing, she went to claim his remains and did not feel right leaving the other unclaimed remains behind. She generously donated two plots in the Silverdale Pioneer Cemetery to the county to be used for laying the forgotten souls to rest.

In their statement, the Coroner’s Office says the reason for the ceremony, “Through no fault of their own these citizens left the world without family and funds for a final resting place. We at the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office feel very strongly that these individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”

And that, they were.

A man addresses a crowd at a funeral for indigent in a cemetery

Kitsap County Coroner Jeff Wallis addresses a crowd of some 70 community members in attendance at the burial services of 14 Kitsap County residents who died without family or funds for funeral services. He thanked the attendees saying, “I think this is a testament to how tight our community is. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up.”

Cremated remains of indigent on a table at a cemetery

Boxes of cremains of those who passed sit, prepared to be placed into their final resting place in Silverdale Pioneer Cemetery, July 13, 2019. Approximately 100 personnel hours went into attempts to identify and locate family and information for each individual.

A plaque a next to open graves of indigent people at a cemetery

A plaque placed near the donated plots thank and commemorate the individuals and businesses who have contributed to the services of “the forgotten souls.” July 13, 2019.

 

A man plays guitar as a woman places flowers in graves at a funeral service for indigent people

A community member places flowers in the graves of the 14 residents being laid to rest while local musician Kevin Saunders plays his guitar in their honor at the Indigent Cremains Burial Service in Silverdale Pioneer Cemetery on July 13, 2019.

a woman polaces flowers in the graves of the indigent people in a cemeterya woman polaces flowers in the graves of the indigent people in a cemetery

A chaplain addresses a crowd during a funeral service for indigetn people in a cemetery

Chaplain Don Melendez of Kitsap Fire and Rescue addresses the community members attending the services, July 13, 2019.

Men placing cremated remains of indigent people in graves in cemetery

Kitsap County Coroner Jeff Wallis and members of his staff lay the remains of 14 indigent community members to rest in a touching public ceremony, July 13, 2019.

 

A man plays the guitar at a funeral service for indigetn people in a cemetery

Kevin Saunders, a local musician, learned about the services a day earlier. Inspired by a film he had seen in which the protagonist honored the poor and needy in a similar way, he contacted Coroner Wallis and asked to play at the ceremony. Kevin relies on public transportation, which does not offer a route to Silverdale Cemetery so Wallis offered to give him a ride, another testament to the closeness of the community.

 

In Conclusion

In the touching service, Chaplain Don Melendez of Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue, touched on the importance of reaching out and lending a helping hand to these “indigent” individuals of our community. It is not enough to simply honor them after they pass. As he concluded the ceremony he said, “Let’s make that promise to one another; we will not be alone. This community is too great for anybody to be alone.”

Names of those honored in this ceremony:

  1. Sandra J. Post
  2. Yvonne Diane Feltzman
  3. Richard Dale Miller
  4. Remedios Reyes Byrne
  5. Herbert Jay Schorr
  6. James Lee Anderson
  7. Joyce A. Yale
  8. Reinee Louise Wohlers
  9. Margaret Mary Callahan
  10. Csaba A. Feher
  11. John P. Marion
  12. Robert N. Sage
  13. Welch
  14. Unknown

 

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Roa Family Feature Story – Poulsbo Family Photography https://andibuescherphotography.com/poulsbo-family-photography/ https://andibuescherphotography.com/poulsbo-family-photography/#respond Wed, 19 Jun 2019 01:22:32 +0000 http://andibuescherphotography.com/?p=1267 Every now and then I encounter a family that makes me think maybe I do want add one or two little people to my own family. The Roa family was one of those families. I followed this family around Poulsbo for a day for a Feature Story photo session. Here is an excellent example of […]

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Every now and then I encounter a family that makes me think maybe I do want add one or two little people to my own family. The Roa family was one of those families. I followed this family around Poulsbo for a day for a Feature Story photo session. Here is an excellent example of what documentary family photography looks like.

I arrived around noon, just as the kids were having lunch. As I made myself comfortable, which usually means my chilling out on the floor, the youngest immediately climbed into my lap. My heart melted. She quickly moved on to hugging the family’s corgi, melting my heart even more. The oldest won me over pretty quickly, too, when he pulled out his own camera. (His mom is a pretty phenomenal photographer herself. You can see her work here.)  After a brief shoe/coat battle, we all piled into the family ride and headed to the local plant nursery and the grocery store.

The weather cleared up and the sun came out. When the sun is out in Washington, you go outside, and that’s just what we did. The kids played in the backyard and helped mom with gardening while dad grilled up some dinner. After dinner, we all piled back into the car, this time heading for the ice cream parlor. The day wound down with the normal bed time routine; baths and bedtime stories.

As you see, nothing special needed to be planned. It was a Saturday like any other Saturday and I was so honored to have the privilege of documenting it for them. The average day in your life right now, will not be the average day forever. As children grow up and adults grow older routines change and today’s routines become a memory. I am 100% behind a nice family portrait but the stories of your every day are just as important and 110% worth documenting. There are only so many family trips to the grocery store in a lifetime.

Little boy slurping soup from a bowl little girl slurping on a noodle

Little girl hugging a corgi

Mother trying to get her toddler daughter's shoes on Mother trying to get her toddler daughter's shoes on father and mother trying to get toddler daughter's coat on father and mother trying to get toddler daughter's coat ona family outside their SUV A little boy in a nursery taking pictures of plants a family buying plants at a plant nursery

A father and mother in a bedtime routine with their childrenLittle boy putting his pajamas on woman reading a bedtime story to her son and daughter

 

 

 

 

 

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Living With ALS- A Personal Project https://andibuescherphotography.com/als-awareness/ https://andibuescherphotography.com/als-awareness/#comments Fri, 24 May 2019 20:54:16 +0000 http://andibuescherphotography.com/?p=1168 May is ALS Awareness Month so what better time to share this project than now.   Meeting Letitia – The Inspiration I met Letitia in late March of 2019. She walked into the office where I was working complaining about having difficulty opening the door. I noticed she had braces on her legs, walked with […]

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May is ALS Awareness Month so what better time to share this project than now.

 

Meeting Letitia – The Inspiration

I met Letitia in late March of 2019. She walked into the office where I was working complaining about having difficulty opening the door. I noticed she had braces on her legs, walked with a cane, and seemed to have limited mobility in her right hand. She was small and seemed a bit frail. After taking care of her business, I helped her out the door and we started chatting.

 

In addition to her leg braces, Letitia used a cane when she walked, but the big carts at the grocery store offered enough stability to keep her mobile as she shopped. On this shopping trip, she stocked up on one of her favorite drinks, Monster Energy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I Just Want People To Know”

Letitia spoke about her diagnosis, ALS, brought up stem cell research, and big pharma, but the words she spoke which struck me most were, “I just want people to know.” She repeated this phrase multiple times. I went back into the office and paced with those words ringing in my head.

 

Respiratory complications are a large part of ALS as the disease weakens the muscles needed for breathing. The trilogy machine Leticia was using here is noninvasive ventilation to assist with breathing, though she did not use it much. It assists with the muscles in the chest and the diaphragm. The issue she had been experiencing was with muscles in her throat. As the disease progressed, the next course of action would have been invasive ventilation in the form of a tracheostomy. She was greatly concerned that the invasive ventilation would take away her ability to speak, something she did not want to lose. As someone who thrived in physical activity, she simply said, “That’s not me.” ⠀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, I chased her down in the parking lot and gave her my information. She had a story she clearly wanted to tell and I felt overwhelmingly compelled to help her tell it. A few days later, she called. We met for coffee later that week and the following week we started our project. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Two days after we began shooting, Letitia passed away.

 

Letitia’s leg braces were initially used for her arthritis. As her muscles began to atrophy, they ultimately assisted her with her ALS, helping her maintain the strength in her legs to walk and keep her balance.

Though she had a brace for each leg, she often wore only the left one. Her right leg muscles had atrophied so much that is was too difficult for her to get the brace tightened enough so that it would not slide down her leg. She sat on the arm rest of the couch because sitting at anything lower than a 90-degree angle made it difficult for her to get back up.⠀

Letitia strapping on her leg brace as we prepared to go to the grocery store. Letitia’s right leg brace was different from the left brace. It had more straps and small slots to weave the straps through, making it more difficult for her to manage as she began to lose muscle movement in her hands. She had recently applied for a Myomo Robotic Arm, for which she had qualified. She then had to wait for her insurance, Medicaid, to approve it, a process that can take months. Regardless of the lengthy process, it was something that gave her hope, hope which she had indicated was so hard to find.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a bit of a shock for me as I thought I would have far more time with her than I did. Letitia was still walking and still maintained quite a bit of independence. Though at times barely audible, she could speak. She did not have a trach or a feeding tube. It challenged my all my preconceived notions on what ALS looked like.

The time I did have with her touched me deeply. Her story was wrought with complications and she, being fiercely independent, was facing this devastating disease, essentially, alone. She was incredibly brave, not only because she was facing this disease, as she had no choice in that. She was brave because she was willing to share her story. This gave her a bigger purpose. Allowing me to document her story gave me a bigger purpose. And I will be forever grateful to her for that.

 

ALS Awareness Month⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Working with Letitia has lead me to connections with the ALS Association Evergreen Chapter, with whom I will be continuing this project in honor of Letitia and everyone else who has been affected by this, as Letitia called it, “hurricane” of a disease.

Letitia allowed herself to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable takes a great deal of courage. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we allow others to be vulnerable. Vulnerability leads to genuine connection with others; it humanizes us. Her willingness to be vulnerable reminded me of why I pursued photography in the first place – “to do something good with that camera”.

    

 

woman with ALS showing muscle atrophy in shoulder

Letitia shows how the muscle mass in her shoulders has atrophied. In ALS, both the upper motor neurons and the lower motor neurons degenerate and stop sending messages to the muscles. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken, start to twitch (called fasciculations), and waste away (atrophy). She insisted that I take this photo. She wanted people to see and know what this disease, which she has referred to as a “hurricane”, does to the human body.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

 

May we all find inspiration in those willing to share their stories as openly as Letitia was as that is where true inspiration comes from.

 

 

 

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The Power of a Printed Photograph https://andibuescherphotography.com/the-power-of-a-printed-photograph/ https://andibuescherphotography.com/the-power-of-a-printed-photograph/#respond Fri, 01 Mar 2019 17:28:48 +0000 http://andibuescherphotography.com/?p=1009 Why buy a printed photograph?  Because you have invested in a professional photographer. Don’t let your images just sit on a hard drive somewhere. Let them be seen, by printing them. Printed Photograph vs. Digital When was the last time you sat down at your computer and looked at your digital family photos? I have […]

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Why buy a printed photograph?  Because you have invested in a professional photographer. Don’t let your images just sit on a hard drive somewhere. Let them be seen, by printing them.

Printed Photograph vs. Digital

I am always looking for more images to add to my wall gallery.

When was the last time you sat down at your computer and looked at your digital family photos? I have dozens of old images on old hard drives, from long before my studying photography that I often forget I even have. And the ones I never forget? The printed photographs hanging on my walls. They are sitting on my desk and even hanging on the fridge. Some are stored in boxes in a closet, a closet I occasionally clean out. I rarely even think about the old pictures stored on those hard drives, let alone look at them. Screens are in front of us all the time these days. The next time you are reminiscing with your children about that fun family vacation, are you more likely to pull out a screen or an album?

Technology Changes

And it changes fast. Do you remember VHS? Do you know anyone who has VHS anymore? What about the old floppy disc? How would one even go about retrieving the information stored on one now a days? Sure, getting images via web download or via thumb drive is a great way to have copies. The problem is just that. They are copies. What happens when technology outgrows it?  What do you do when one of those things fails? My laptop, already a year old, does not even have a USB port or a disc drive. A printed photograph is a tangible item. It is art. You can hold it in your hands and hang it on your wall. Technology cannot outgrow it.

The Psychological Impacts

When one looks at a favorite photograph it brings them back to that place and time. The memories tend to fill us with joy and nostalgia. Psychological studies support the idea that printed photographs in a home give children in particular a sense of belonging and self, thus aiding in their confidence. A professor of psychological sciences at the University of Manchester says, “For children in particular, looking at photographs is part of the socializing process; learning who you are and where you fit into the family. By displaying photographs of our children at different stages in their lives, we are making a very public statement that we are proud of them.” (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1117243/Family-photographs-help-develop-childs-positive-self-image.html)

David Krauss, a licensed psychologist from Cleveland, Ohio stresses, not only the importance of printed photographs showing a family unit, “I think it is really important to show a family as a family unit. It is so helpful for children to see themselves as a valued and important part of that family unit,” but he also chimes in on where he thinks they belong. “My bias is very simple. I think they (family photographs) should be on the wall.” (https://designaglow.com/blogs/design-aglow/17493452-how-family-portraits-boost-your-child-s-self-esteem) What is more important than giving your child a safe space where they feel that they are loved and they belong?

Seeing this image everyday is constant reminder that I definitely married the right man. 😉

As nice as having digital files, they are backups. Your photographs belong on your walls, in books, and in albums that stand the test of time and technology. They belong in a place that gives your children a constant reminder that they are loved and they belong. That is the power of a printed photograph.

 

 

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The Best New Thing In Family Photography https://andibuescherphotography.com/the-best-new-thing-in-family-photography/ https://andibuescherphotography.com/the-best-new-thing-in-family-photography/#respond Thu, 28 Feb 2019 17:33:39 +0000 http://andibuescherphotography.com/?p=982 Guess what? You DON’T have to wear matching outfits! Documentary family photography is a new and contemporary way to have your family photographed while maintaining the integrity of your story. It’s different, it’s honest, and the laid-back approach makes it a breath of fresh air for families. The Ease of Keeping it Real Documentary family […]

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Guess what? You DON’T have to wear matching outfits!

Documentary family photography is a new and contemporary way to have your family photographed while maintaining the integrity of your story. It’s different, it’s honest, and the laid-back approach makes it a breath of fresh air for families.

The Ease of Keeping it Real

Documentary family photography comes with absolutely no expectations or extensive planning on your part. Parents don’t need to find the right outfits. They don’t need to worry about forcing kids to stand still, behave, or smile. Dad doesn’t need to drag his feet. No one needs to pick a special location. What is more special than your home? You don’t even need to clean it! You simply need to be yourselves for a day, doing the normal day to day things. The biggest challenge will probably be getting comfortable with someone hanging around with a camera. There may be some great conversations, or you may forget that the photographer is even there. Most likely, there will be a little bit of both. There is no pressure, no judgment and I promise you, the moments in your day are far more interesting than anything that could be directed or posed.

The Value of Your Family Story

We can put any family in a field around sunrise or sunset and get a beautiful family portrait, which carries its own worth, so much so that with every documentary collection I offer I allow for time to take a posed family portrait.

However, documenting your family reveals the whole story. The integrity in documentary photography captures the uniqueness of YOUR family. Your true story is invaluable and inspiring. It is your past, your present, and your future. When you are old and gray you can look at your family album and be reminded of who you once were as a family. It allows future generations the opportunity to see where they came from and gives them a better sense of who they are. In a traditional family portrait, you could be any family. Let the grandchildren and great grandchildren see who you were and what life was truly like in your era. Nothing beats the real story.

It’s the Best New Thing In Family Photography

In this day and age authenticity is the buzz word. Gone are the days of keeping up with the Jones’s. People know better. The advent of social media stresses the importance of being real. All too often we have seen only the highlights of others’ lives. People are over it, and many have started sharing the low lights of their lives as a counterbalance. There is no need to pretend your life is perfect because we all know nobody’s is. This most certainly applies to families, too. All children will misbehave. All parents occasionally become exasperated. The struggles of parenting along with the joys deserve to be seen. It gives others encouragement, hope, and comfort to know everyone experiences highs and lows. Let others draw strength and inspiration from your story by documenting it.

This emerging genre is perfect if you don’t want to deal with getting everyone dressed up to pose for an hour of photographing. It’s prefect if you want something truly valuable to pass down to future generations. It’s perfect if you simply want a family photo that keep things real.

If you are interested in learning more about the up and coming approach to family photography, contact me and I am happy to share all the details.

 

 

 

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The Journey Into Documentary Photography https://andibuescherphotography.com/my-documentary-photography-journey/ https://andibuescherphotography.com/my-documentary-photography-journey/#comments Wed, 27 Feb 2019 17:32:22 +0000 http://andibuescherphotography.com/?p=951 I have always been a storyteller but documentary photography is where I discovered my medium. In my life I have loved acting, writing, producing theater shows, and and working on crappy short films; all forms of storytelling. To be blunt, I never fell in love with photography, itself. In fact, I am still not “in […]

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I have always been a storyteller but documentary photography is where I discovered my medium. In my life I have loved acting, writing, producing theater shows, and and working on crappy short films; all forms of storytelling. To be blunt, I never fell in love with photography, itself. In fact, I am still not “in love” with photography. While I do enjoy taking a beautiful photo, capturing true emotion and putting the photos together to make the story is where my heart lies.

What Lead Me To Documentary Photography

I started my journey into photography thinking I could make a little extra cash by providing head shots to actors in Los Angeles, where I was living at the time. I enrolled in an entry-level photography class at Santa Monica College and had a single experience that changed the entire course of my life (might I add that I also had a phenomenal instructor.)

While working on an assignment for this class, I found myself wandering around downtown Los Angeles, near the public library, where a lot of homeless folks tend to congregate. As I was passing by an older African American man, he said to me, “Have you ever seen so much hate in the world?”

By no means is this an exceptional photograph but it may be the most influential one for me, as it completely changed the course of my life.

Thinking he was just another vagabond, I kept walking until I noticed him pointing to something on the bench. There, clearly legible, was a racist comment etched into the wood. A racist remark next to a man wearing a United States Vietnam Veteran hat, a man who had fought to protect the freedom of whoever it was that etched that wretched comment into the bench he sat on. I stopped and had a long conversation with this man, who, as it turns out, was not just another vagabond.

As I walked away that day, he hollered after me, “You do something good with that camera!”

Curiosity struck. Could I really do something good with my camera and make a living? Could I use this tool to document the lives and experiences of others, to give others a voice they may otherwise not have?

That moment sealed my fate to become a documentary photographer.

Why Families?

My sister as a new mother, giving her baby boy a bath.

 

I have photographed many things but nothing quite gives me the satisfaction I find in documenting real life. The joy I found in  documenting families was discovered as I started photographing my own family. I watched my brother and sisters go from being just my siblings to being doting and frazzled parents as they started their own families. Spending extended periods of time in their homes when I visit has given me access into the unique stories of their family units. I see the highs and lows, the joy when the kids laugh, and the frustration when they have total meltdowns. I aim to capture these kids as who they are now, so that one day they can look back and see their journey into who they have become.

Why It’s Important to Me

I find importance in documenting families because, let’s face it, we are all going to die. When we preserve our own story, we give future generations the opportunity to connect with us when we are gone. Connecting with members of our family, both past and present, fills an innate need in each one of us. I love looking at old images of my ancestors. However, there are few and they are nearly all portraits that tell me very little about who these people were. I like the idea of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren having access, not just to a few portraits to see what their ancestors looked like, but images of real life that give them a glimpse into who we were and what life was like for us in the era in which we lived.

A few of the old photos I have of my family. As meaningful as they are to me, they tell me very little about who the people in the photographs were.

 

 

These are my reasons for choosing documentary photography and how I discovered it. I have always wanted to be a story teller. Sometimes we only need to follow our curiosities to find our purpose. My curiosity was simply photography but that curiosity lead me to documentary photography, which is where I found my medium for storytelling.

I would love to hear what telling and preserving your family’s story means to you. Reach out and let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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