Do you ever scroll through your instagram feed, or look through past few rolls of film or weeks worth of files and notice a particular color or subject dominant in those batches of images? So dominant, in fact, that you’d find it hard to believe the choice of subject matter wasn’t a conscious effort unless you knew for certain that you had not gone out shooting with any such intention in mind.
Maybe it’s our subconscious mind at play, a behind the scenes master of ceremonies, steering us towards that specific family of blues, or reflections, or shadows or whatever, because there’s something we need to see and learn. Maybe it’s just electricity – our wavelengths tuned in to a particular frequency and all we feel compelled to make images of is that temporarily ascendant whatever until our dial turns a touch, and then we are off looking for something new. Maybe it’s completely random. But sometimes the trend is so strong, randomness becomes a difficult answer to swallow.
I started reading Richard Powers’ sweeping novel of trees and forestry, The Overstory, in early January, but the pictures I’m sharing here date back to October, so well before my book club even selected the title. When I got all of this film back a few weeks ago, I had to go back and check the dates, because I couldn’t understand what I was seeing. When was it that I started reading the book? When did we choose it?
If you were to get a peek at the few rolls I’ve shot since last fall, you’d see a forest: urban trees; suburban trees; multiple exposures of trees superimposed on their leaves and on structures; crazy gnarled playground for squirrel trunks; woodlands; the tiniest shoots of infant seedlings; snowy leaves shot through prisms and pedigreed espaliered trees. It’s really and truly practically all trees! Sadly, I had to contact a tree specialist near me because some of the trees presented a risk to public safety due to their precarious positioning. Sadly, all trees have a life expectancy just like us humans.
According to my records only the last few photos were made after I’d fallen under the spell of The Overstory, which would have been a perfectly serviceable explanation for the obsession. Apparently something else was at play.
I’m not sure what it all means, this recent photographic arboreal obsession, but I am taking notice. What have you been noticing lately? I’d love to know.
Keep your eyes wide open,