In the early nineties, when Terry, my longtime assistant, printer, and friend was in the darkroom printing one of my photographs, I suddenly heard the door open and out walked Terry, print tray in hand with a huge grin on his face.
He looked at me and said “You’ve done it again. Did you know you were doing this?”
I looked at him quizzically as I had no idea what he was talking about, walked over to him and looked at the print he was holding in the tray.
He asked me again if I noticed anything unusual about the print, and other than thinking that it looked like another magical print produced by his skilled hands, I noticed nothing unusual. I was still trying to figure out if I even liked the picture.
Finally Terry said to me, “You do this over and over again and you’re not even aware of it.” With that comment, he pointed to the white painted trees and showed me that they aligned perfectly with the neighboring field.
He said that in many of my photographs the relationship between people and the landscape, or objects within the landscape are in perfect harmony. They meet or juxtapose perfectly. Their relationship in the frame is sympathetic and exacting. “How do you do this?” he exclaimed.
I looked at him because Terry was one of the wisest and most observant viewers of photography I had ever known and my response was, “I simply don’t know.”
All I can say is that when I release the shutter, in a fleeting burst of emotional energy, at that brief moment everything within the frame feels right.
If it is a landscape, I have moved around until I have found the singular right spot, where intuitively I feel connected to the place.
It is not an intellectual or conceptual endeavor. It is a primordial quest for tranquility and resolve. Everything in my viewfinder at that moment is perfectly aligned and just at that very instant, there is a driving powerful need and desire to press the shutter and capture that fleeting moment.
It is so ironic that this primal, sexual energy that is so powerful and energetic, can release and produce something that is so peaceful, composed and elegant.
But that is my belief. Photography is a response to the world, not a reflection of it. It is an attempt to bring order out of chaos, understanding out of confusion, wisdom out of ignorance and lastly, beauty out of despair. It is my attempt to help us all find the right place at the right time so we can, once again, as a culture move forward in harmony.