It is to me -- although I work very much like a painter does. I am always looking at special relationships between elements. I do a tremendous amount of scouting on a location, looking at it from different angles, how things line up and hone it down to – this is where I want to stand, this is what I want to include. Now I pull out the camera.
What else does black and white do for you? I’m trying to evoke an emotional response, trying to make it more than just a pure representation of a scene. I want you to be moved by the image, feel like you can step into it. So I’m using very traditional elements and positional aspects to help create a sense of depth, a sense of place. Take this picture of Old Sheldon church. This is quintessentially Lowcountry near Yemassee. A lot of people go there and photograph it but they always shot from the other side to get it all in. It took me three years to get that shot. I was always looking for the right sense of light. Fog is a big thing for me and that morning was foggy – but when I got close for some reason there was none around around the church. So I set the camera down and waited. Then suddenly the fog is coming around the trees and I have to get it right because I have only 2 sheets left – and at 6 bucks a sheet you don’t throw it away! So I run back to grab the camera and look up and see that from that side it’s more about the sense of place.
With this camera you can only shoot a few? Kind of like a cowboy with two bullets left?
Exactly. That makes it more emotional! Not like digital where you can shoot as many as you want.
In film we use black and white as a signal of the past or to create nostalgia – is that part of the emotion here – you’re asking people to be “reflective?” That’s a really good way to put it. I don’t really think about too much, but I do want to alter your thought process. If people take the time to really look at the photography, they will see things. Your paintings are all about nature. No people. And if you show a building it’s a ruin. What’s going on? I tend not to be drawn to the “hand of man” – modern elements. There is a mystique to nature. Trees are a big subject for me and always have been -- going back to my teenage years. Sometimes I just stand under a live oak and ask ‘what’s passed under this tree?’ We’re talking hundreds of years – think how transformative this area is -- Sheldon was built in 1752. I’m intrigued by a sense of history and place. So in a way you’re playing to the timelessness of nature? Absolutely. Having grown up in these areas I can remember spending the entire day