Wednesday, September 10, 2008
story of a picture: reflection
I was thinking earlier today about photography, and the stories behind photos... a picture says a thousand words and all, but, as a photographer I am always curious about the story behind the images. And so I've decided to start a new category here to tell you some of the stories behind my images. Off we go.
This is one of my favorite images. It was shot on an overcast day in the Pine Barrens of Jackson, New Jersey (*cue Johnny & June singing Jackson inside my head*), sometime in '99 as best I recall. And I do remember this day well...
I had just moved to New Jersey at the time... I was adjusting to a foreign home on the east coast, 2159.20 miles away from the West Texas desert I grew up in... and a whole different world from anything I'd ever encountered. I was definitely a stranger in a strange land up there; there was some extreme culture shock at the beginning for sure. It was an adventure, though... I was still a new bride at that time, and remember being very much in that mode... just starting out in love and happy and looking forward to roses and daisies and fluffy bunnies and all that stuff. For me it was an exciting time in my life. Of course it all came to a really bad, sad end years later, which makes this photo sort of a bittersweet thing to look at, for me.
I had the day to myself that day, everyone else was working. On days like that I used to grab my camera and hop into my truck and just randomly drive around, usually in search of an abandoned place to explore. It was so weird for me, living in the middle of the woods... it was disorienting when it came to getting around because I grew up in a flat desert land and I always had my Franklin Mountains as a landmark. In Jersey I was surrounded on all sides by either towering forest, or towering city buildings, depending on which part of my Jersey life we are talking about. I remember finding this place- a small abandoned cottage- not too far from our apartment and being happy to have discovered it. I remember wondering about the people who might have lived there and feeling sure somehow that it had been a couple in love. I really wanted to capture the overcast skies and the puddles and drippy branches and everything, there was a real melancholy air to this place.
I got this particular shot in the driveway... I remember noticing the tree-shaped puddle on the ground and then watching how perfectly the tree's reflection fit into it when I moved into the right angle, like magic. I loved the deep, wet, gray colors and the rough glimmer on the pavement. My favorite part was the yellow leaf floating on the water, I loved how it seemed to be caught in the branch-reflection. I remember the crisp chill in the air and the smell of rain and wet leaves. I remember feeling very peaceful and content at the moment I took this picture.
I can see a lot of different meanings in this photograph, from the juxtaposition of life & death, to the contrast of reality & reflection... but mostly the meanings are much more personal to me.
It reminds me of the beginning of a story that you have already read through once... and even though you know it's headed toward an unhappy ending, you can still take something from the unaware beauty of that moment, nonetheless.