“Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home — not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colors. How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you away. How you can fall in love with the light.” — Ellen Meloy
“I wonder if ever again Americans can have that experience of returning to a home place so intimately known, profoundly felt, deeply loved, and absolutely submitted to? It is not quite true that you can’t go home again. I have done it, coming back here. But it gets less likely…we have lived too shallowly in too many places.” — Wallace Stegner
Another year has passed and I am re-reading my blog posts and journals from 2013, as well as reviewing my images, retracing my year. Last year was one in which I grew tremendously in my photographic vision and voice. This year, I hoped to build on that growth.
Looking at numbers of images produced, 2013 was relatively light for me. Some of this was intentional: I spent significant time in the mountains over the summer and fall, but often left my camera at home, focusing on introspection and reflection. I used to carry my camera everywhere with me, but have learned to let that go somewhat–sometimes being in the moment is more valuable than trying to capture every moment with a camera. Details and intimacy with the moment get lost that way, as counterintuitive as it may seem.
Despite the few images I made this year, it was productive in other ways. I was able to redesign my website and restructure my image portfolios. I had several fantastic backpacking trips and was reminded how good getting off the grid for a few days can feel. I was fortunate to enjoy two of those backpacking trips with Jackson Frishman, who I have known for several years through our blogs; I really enjoyed getting to know him in person this year. I also was able to further develop some thoughts on the West, and on sense of place, which is an ongoing subject of interest for me:
Personally, it was a year of deep introspection, revelation, and unexpected hope for me; 2014 should be an interesting year photographically as well as personally. One thing I did confront within myself was the fact that my parents are aging and won’t live forever–this has been a theme since January and in some ways continues to be so.
My biggest recurring theme this year was the concept of ‘home’ and how we fit into the landscape. I’m not talking about home in the sense of having a street address and a house, but rather the feeling you get when you arrive in a certain location. Why are we drawn to certain landscapes more than others–why do we feel “at home” in certain landscapes, but not in others? I feel like this is should be a central tenet of landscape photography: conveying a sense of place, a sense of belonging, to the landscape.
As humans, we are at an interesting crossroads: we can use the landscape to drive our development, we can simply be inhabitants of the landscape, or we can become part of the landscape, existing as part of its rhythm. Only the latter option is a completely synchronous way of living–the former two are somewhat asynchronous. The bottom line is that we must strive to create a life that’s in balance with our own needs, but also with the land.
I found balance this year by visiting familiar locations, revisiting places I haven’t been in years, and discovering new landscapes I haven’t visited before. As I was reviewing my portfolios and images from the year, it struck me that many of my favorites from this year were in monochrome. Why? I guess I just saw the world that way in 2013.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the images, and that 2013 was good to you. I hope you a fantastic 2014 as well!