To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. Elliott Erwitt
This is a snapshot of Irving Lefberg’s life. Kind, soft spoken and witty, Irving was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 6th, 1947. His mother stayed home to care for him and his father worked on an electrical assembly line. Irving attended the City College of New York for his undergraduate studies, then further developed his skills with a graduate degree and Ph.D. in political economy from MIT. Afterward, he obtained more professional exposure with a one-year fellowship at Harvard University and rose up in the world of finance.
For about twenty-two years, Irving worked at the Washington State Budget office, aiding in the process of managing and balancing the state budget. It was a stressful and demanding job, but one that he enjoyed. While working there, he met his wife, Sheryl. Sheryl also worked in the world of finance and had a good understanding of economics. They dated for a while and later married. Irving’s focus included helping to care for Sheryl, as she had some physical limitations that required her to use a wheelchair. They were married for thirty years.
For many years, Irving loved taking photographs. Upon retiring, he decided to take his hobby and make it into a new career. Irving would take photos at a variety of events, such as weddings and parties. He also provided photo retouching services. What he enjoyed most, however, was taking photographs of birds.
He and some friends would often take trips to go bird watching. They’d go to national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and even the San Diego Safari Park, with the goal of seeing and capturing images of birds. He and friend, Norm, once even went to the Grand Canyon on Christmas to shoot some photographs.
When asked if he was ever a member of the Audobon Society, Irving shared that he wasn’t. In fact, he’d often see members of the society while taking photographs. The Audobon members would take photographs of birds, but often focus on cataloging the type of bird seen, location and more. Irving shared that he simply wanted to focus on taking photos. He continued on with this work, even winning several awards for originality and having his work displayed in the Escondido Municipal Gallery. He was a member of the Photo Arts Group in Escondido for several years.
When not working or taking photographs, Irving enjoyed being outside. He liked watching baseball and was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan until they moved to Los Angeles. He also enjoyed watching old musicals, like Singing in the Rain. Today, Irving still enjoys watching movies and musicals. His intelligence and wit are clear to those around him. He often impresses his friends with quick and accurate answers to trivia questions on a variety of topics.
Life, like photography, has “little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see [it]”(Elliott Erwitt). Irving’s life illustrates this. He was able to take ordinary circumstances and moments in a day and use a camera to show the way he saw the world around him. There is more to Irving than meets the eye. Behind his quiet, unassuming demeanor is a brilliant, caring and creative person, and one that we feel honored to know and call our friend.
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