Tuesday, April 8

Chased by the Light

One book I have really appreciated is a photography book called Chased by the Light. This isn’t your ordinary collection of nature photos. Although books like that are good, this one is extra special.

Photographer Jim Brandenburg was finding his work with the National Geographic to be unfulfilling and possibly even squelching his passion for photography. I can imagine it could. For one thing you’re “on assignment” and are told what to photograph (which, in itself, diminishes artistic freedom). For another thing, the sheer quantity of photos taken is so immense; one could get snap-happy and lose sight of the heart and soul of the thing. So he set out on a photographic journey that he thought would either show him it was time to move on or renew him.

Brandenburg challenged himself on this “journey” to take one picture every day. His location was Minnesota’s boreal forest and his time frame was the Autumnal Equinox to the Winter Solstice, ninety days total. He was going to hunker down, defy the same old, and endeavor to heal his relationship with nature. Although Brandenburg may call this honor and appreciation for nature a Zen-like approach, I would call it walking in the light.

Turning over every rock in search for his picture, Brandenburg found a renewed sense of what makes photography the art that it is. What communicates in the best way the beauty and creepiness of marvelous things? What captures the thing that makes us go “wow”? Searching for your one and only picture has you looking at everything for what it’s worth. It’s like picking the right dish on the menu at your final meal or choosing how to spend the last $5 you will ever have. You have one chance to get it right. Jim Brandenburg hit a grand slam 90% of the times.

Aaron got me this DVD for my birthday. Jim Brandenburg and others talk about the project and Jim gives commentary on some of the photos. There is also a neat slideshow of the "Looking for Summer" project he did afterwards.


Brittany said...

Wow, Peter that sounds really neat! :)