Seeing

When I began submitting photos to juried exhibitions I was asked to include an 'artist's statement' with each entry. Traditionally, this is a part of the entry process with which many artists struggle; fine art degree programs often require students to craft a statement at some time during their course of study. If you've visited my About page, you've read my statement.

I look closely at everything. When I make a picture I wish to record the moment, not simply make an image that pleases the eye but rather to recall the scent of the earth below me or the bird song heard above me.

I seek to discover how the subject of my photo connects to its surroundings; my pictures isolate the thing while quietly extolling its relationship to the universe.

It was pretty simple for me to explain what I do...and why I do it. It comes naturally to me to look closely. I can't elaborate on my process because I have no process. I look at everything around me with wonder and awe. And in doing so, I see what others do not.

On Wednesday Benjamin and I visited Quittie Creek Nature Park. There were a lot of people on the main trail - fly fishermen, a grandmother picnicking and fishing with her grand-kids, a pair of trail runners, walkers and a handful of families. Despite the distractions, I spotted the molt of a buffalo treehopper. And nearby, the treehopper itself.

To give you some idea of the small stature of a nymph: a buffalo treehopper emerges from its egg in May-June and molts several times before measuring between 0.24-0.31 inch in its adult stage. How do I see these things? I want to see them...I seek them, whether consciously or not.

Art to me, is seeing. I think you have got to use your eyes, as well as your emotion, and one without the other just doesn’t work. That’s my art.
— Andrew Wyeth

When I discover some tiny creature in a vast meadow or a dense thicket...or, I catch a glimpse of a ruby-throated hummingbird perched in our Japanese maple tree, I am mesmerized. I feel as if I've been blessed by God. I am astounded when I am able to catch a glimpse of the busy little world mostly unseen. I feel in tune to my surroundings. Even while hiking a trail only one minute (0.2 mile) from a busy road (recently estimated to be traveled by 14,000 vehicles a day), I heard rustling in some leaves and was able to share the experience of seeing a short-tailed shrew with my son. Art to me, is seeing.  

Not only seeing. All of my senses are in tune with nature and so I - to the best of my ability - use my camera to record the moment. Although every photograph I take is a mere digital recording of the memory...my emotion, while capturing the image, is the true diarist. Seeing the shrew and remembering the moment...that is the true chronicle. Once home, the quiet process of identifying the subject -- poring over field guides, learning the meanings of Latin names,  habits and habitat..my personal relationship with the subject deepens and enhances the entire experience.