I didn't want to tell the tree or
weed what it was.
I wanted it to tell me something and through me express its meaning in nature.
The medium of photography can record not only what the eyes see, but that which the mind's eye sees as well. The camera is not only an extension of the eye, but of the brain. It can see sharper, farther, nearer, slower, faster than the eye. It can see by invisible light. It can see in the past, present, and future. Instead of using the camera only to reproduce objects, I wanted to use it to make what is invisible to the eye visible.
As long as I can remember, I have been filled with a deep desire to find a means of creatively interacting with the world, of understanding more of what is within and around me. It was not until I was 40, however, that I decided photography was my best way. When I photograph, what I'm really doing is seeking answers to things.
It is not that I am uninterested in telling visual stories about people and their everyday lives. I just like to leave this kind of work mostly to others. What I prefer is to trace the hidden roots of humanity deeply embedded in nature.
I love the medium of photography, for with its unique realism it gives me the power to go beyond conventional ways of seeing and understanding and say, "This is real, too."
At the time I began photographing nudes, I was probably a bloody bore. I couldn’t talk of anything else but space/time to all my friends, and I think it drove them straight up the wall. It was really an emotional experience for me when, all of a sudden, I realized that I had been thinking and operating on one level and that it didn’t always have to be so. Discovering this other level opened up new worlds to me….
My pictures are never pre-visualized or planned. I feel strongly that pictures must come from contact with things at the time and place of taking. At such times, I rely on intuitive, perceptual responses to guide me, using reason only after the final print is made to accept or reject the results of my work. Although both intuition and reason are equally important tools that help me grow visually, the creative act itself comes from an intense, direct, one-to-one relationship between myself and whatever I photograph.
What I feel is that the picture-taking process, anyway a greater part of it, is an intuitive thing. You can't go out and logically plan a picture, but when you come back, reason then takes over and verifies or rejects whatever you've done. So that's why I say that reason and intuition are not in conflict--they strengthen each other.
I feel all things as dynamic events, being, changing, and interacting with each other in space and time even as I photograph them.
As I became aware that all things have unique spatial and temporal qualities which visually define and relate them, I began to perceive the things I was photographing not as objects but as events. Working to develop my skills of perceiving and symbolizing these event qualities, I discovered the principle of opposites. When, for example, I photographed the smooth, luminous body of a woman behind a dirty cobwebbed window, I found that the qualities of each event were enhanced and the universal forces which they manifested were more powerfully evoked.
In a photograph, if I am able to evoke not alone a feeling of the reality of the surface physical world but also a feeling of the reality of existence that lies mysteriously and invisibly beneath its surface, I feel I have succeeded. At their best, photographs as symbols not only serve to help illuminate some of the darkness of the unknown, they also serve to lessen the fears that too often accompany the journeys from the known to the unknown.
Searching is everything - going beyond what you know. And the test of the search is really in the things themselves, the things you seek to understand. What is important is not what you think about them, but how they enlarge you.
A person is quite different from a tree or rock or stream. By introducing the nude into my pictures, I started perceiving all the things I was photographing in new ways. In contrast or opposition to each other, things became much more significant and interesting, revealing many more qualities than I had ever dreamed of knowing and expressing. By using the nude, I stopped thinking in terms of objects. I was seeing things, instead, as dynamic events, unique in their own beings yet also related and existing together within a universal context of energy and change.
I totally disagree with the belief that nature was only made for the use of people. Human beings are not the center of the universe, and, if they are to sustain themselves, it is vitally important for them to be awakened to how closely they are linked with the rest of nature.
A thing is not what you say it is or what you photograph it to be or what you paint it to be or what you sculpt it to be. Words, photographs, paintings, and sculptures are symbols of what you see, think, and feel things to be, but they are not the things themselves.