When my youngest child prepared to leave home, I found myself drawn to the wooded landscapes around our house on walks with the dog. As a portrait photographer, turning my lens to the natural world proved fruitful. It offered a broader perspective on my family’s imminent transition and I began to make pictures during those walks.
Since 2018, I have been experimenting with diptychs, triptychs and more in my work. I find that multiple-panel presentations create dialogs between space and form, and imply passages of time. In early 2020, I had planned to photograph several landscapes from my own childhood in California, but the lockdowns prevented any travel. So, I canceled the trip, stayed home, and found myself wandering in the footsteps of the 19th c. transcendental writers in and around nearby Concord, Massachusetts during the pandemic.
Three to four times each week, I would hike at dawn or dusk, searching for figurative gestures in trees, ponds or meadows. I observed the changing foliage, the pulse of water levels in local rivers, and the shifting light of the sun. I discovered the man-made imprints upon the New England landscape, and formed a reverence for the fragile and enduring ecosystems that sustain us. Finally, I wish impart the sense of solitude that I have both endured and embraced through each season of this past year.
The captions which accompany the pictures are sentence fragments found in the writings of Henry David Thoreau.
A Certain Slant of Light
Ongoing Since 2016
Light whispers in my eyes, and it beckons to be photographed. Since the spring of 2016, I have maintained a daily ritual of mindful observation, mobile capture and immediate sharing to social media. In the beginning, I was interested in the dialog between real time networked images, but soon noticed the emergence of several distinct visual threads. As in my past photographic work, I yearned to explore relationships and this prompted a decision to make prints.
Releasing the pictures from the confines of a flickering screen and the chronological order of social media allowed me to arrange, re-arrange and combine images into horizontal, vertical or grid formats. Such freedom heightened my awareness of light and color in skies, water, trees or the interior spaces of home. I am enticed by the visual interactions where luminous and lyrical possibilities appear.
I Could Not Prove the Years Had Feet
My two sons have been muses to me since their childhood. In recent years, however, they seem to have retreated into their rooms becoming physically and emotionally less available. Turning my camera toward the prosaic and recognizable along with quick glimpses of their bodies and gestures, I search for meaning in the spaces we share, in the objects we have all touched and in their growing bodies. These pictures have eased the tension between the trepidation and elation I feel as my sons grow away and ultimately depart.
To Venerate the Simple Days
in memory of Jamie O'Connell, 1990-2010
Over the course of three summers, when my sons were pre-teens, I opted to lighten my load and explore the warm days with color film. I employed a small toy camera that allowed for picture making in places and at times that had been difficult or impossible with the more traditional gear used in my previous work. It was a surprising choice, given that I was never enamored of the plastic optics of lo-fi gear. I found, hoever, that as I exposed and processed the film, the pictures reflected my mood: one of deep satisfaction and contentment to be with the children unencumbered by homework and schedules while they still enjoyed my company, but feeling somewhat melancholy in the knowledge that those simple summer days are rare and fleeting.
Time Let Me Play
When my sons were young, I would listen and watch them intently. I did not always understand their stories, myths or secrets. When I photographed children, my own and others, I used the lens of the camera- a window if you will, to seek clues to the realms they had created. I was engaged once again in child's play, if only from a distance. I found that I had made a connection between my childhood and theirs through these photographs.
These three visual diaries are the traces of the peril and poignance of a family with two growing and changing boys. Both boys are attending college now.