It was sunrise in Southern California, January 11, 1949. Something drew me to the bedroom window. I looked out to the front yard and for miles beyond. The familiar scene of my childhood was gone. Our front lawn with its towering evergreen tree, the vacant lot down the hill and the boulevard leading to Griffith Part were luminous. My world, where the landscape had been a constant was trasformed -covered now in a pure white blanket of what appeared to my five year old eyes to be diamond dust. It was a scene beyond my comprehension and my response was visceral. That moment is as immediate to me now as it was decades ago. My wife summed up the journey that followed perfectly. “That first snowfall set in motion both the search for a view of equal enchantment, as well as a visual memory in search of meaning.”
Establishing a point of view or personal vision is at the core of my work n landscape photography. Oscar Wilde said of another medium, “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” Each walk on the beach or into the forest is an opportunity to get in touch with the landscape in front of the lens and the landscape within. For an image to speak clearly, the photographer must have something to say. Beyond that, there is always an element of change, being present at the right moment as the light reveals form that strokes a chord of recognition. From that point on, intuition and experience take over.
Why black and white? Black and white photography lays open the bones of the image. It’s direct and to the point.
Time and place are always present in the image. I photograph where I live because it’s what I know and it’s accessible. Everything changes with time, including the way I see. I revisit many locations over the seasons and over the years, hopeful that I can get out of my own way, and truly “listen with my eyes.”