Photography is not an art nor a science, it is a labour. The largest portion of the craft consists of long hours of travel and long periods of waiting for light to illuminate the land in a special way. Photography is a process of discovery as much as creation. That discovery takes time and patience. No artistry is required. You just have to wait and it will come to you.
I have had a number of careers in my life and during all of them I yearned to find a way to express my compulsion to create objects of beauty. I never had the ability to play music or paint so I had to find a beauty that already existed and make it mine.
With retirement, I was able to continue an exploration I had started half a century earlier when I first picked up a camera and realised that it was a way to tell stories using the beauty of the world around me. I did not know then what stories I wanted to tell. I just knew that photography was the medium that would allow me to speak.
My photographs are about all of our common experiences of joy, sorrow, grief, anger, darkness and elation. I had spent most of my life looking to record a perfection and purity in the landscape. It has taken me till now to understand, in a very real sense, that this is just one aspect of landscape. The land is soft and harsh at the same time. The snowy mountains can sparkle like brilliant diamonds, but at their base are shadowy cold valleys. One cannot exist without the other. The photographs became a sort of metaphor that allowed me to describe my feelings about the depression that has been a backdrop to my adult life, and in a wider sense, to use photography as a language to describe emotions that often have no words to describe them.
Life takes us down many roads — some joyful and sunlit and others dark and frightening. We never know when the sun will suddenly disappear from our cloudless sky. But equally well, experience teaches that in the midst of a storm it is possible for the rays of the sun to illuminate small parts of the landscape with the promise of warmth, if we can just sit out the tempest. That is what I think about when I photograph the land, and it is the story I want to tell.
Birth and death are the opposite ends of the human experience. In between, we struggle sometimes to understand the meaning of our existence and it is a question that haunts us as we grow older.
Landscape has given me the answer to this question — continuity. The land is a constant. It was here before us and will outlast us. With the birth of my granddaughter, I began to realise that I was here for a purpose — to hand things on to the next generations. This is my continuity. The spirit of those who went before me are to be transmitted to those who come after me. That is why I am here. I look at my son and my granddaughter and see a line stretching back beyond my imagination. I am timeless and they are timeless.
We are the land. When I die I want my ashes scattered on the land. Then I will be one.