Over the next few months writing is going to be a central theme for my creativity and I’d like to share the journey with you. Recognising that first and foremost I’m known as a photographer / filmmaker I would like to put my reasons down here, partly to remind myself what it’s all about and to explain my thoughts to you, my Earthlight readers.
There is a particular camp in photography which considers it sacrilegious to offer any more accompanying words to a photograph than a cursory ‘Untitled’. If the image can’t speak for itself it’s not worthy of display is the thinking behind this. That or the idea that the viewer decides what it’s about. While I get that, and agree that this is great for some images, I am of the belief that carefully crafted prose can help inform the viewer of the intent behind the photo.
Knowing the context can add so much more meat to the bones of an image and give the viewer an easier journey into it. It can bring them alongside for the adventure of the image.
I’ve been a photographer / writer for all of my life and have had many hundreds of articles published in journals ranging from BBC Wildlife to Professional Photographer so it feels a natural progression to introduce more of my writing, or storytelling, into my Earthlight project.
If you’re acquainted with my Earthlight work you’ll know that I include the strapline ‘for the love of the land’. This hints strongly at the purpose behind the pieces. My mission is to encourage a wider falling in love with our place, our landscape, and the beings who live alongside us. Taking an animistic view I see all as equal and relevant to life on this lovely planet we call home and am called to share the stories that I feel are given to me by the land.
I collect the stories through my photography, film making and writing, and I share them with you, here. Hopefully on a more regular, consistent basis. The tools I use to share these stories will continue to change. Recently I’ve added Earthlight products - notebooks, prints, mugs, cushions and other everyday items in the hope that this will bring the visual stories into the everyday. Next will come handmade books, heirloom sets and other rather special creations that are but a twinkle in my eye at the moment. My main items buck the trend of exclusivity and false scarcity and will sit alongside the handmade, time consuming very special creations.
Right now, I’m writing every day. Usually this will be to accompany a new image, however at times I will choose a seasonal one randomly from my archive and use that as the trigger for whatever wants to flow. I’m posting these pieces in my Field Notes section and invite you to browse these musings whenever you feel the need for a little more nature in your life.
You may notice that threaded throughout the pieces are works that may seem rather mystifying. You may even wonder what on Earth they are about! That’s ok. That’ the response I expect to elicit with some of my work. I see them as conceptual pieces, much like abstract art in a way.
One of my favourite writers is the late Canadian poet, Don Domanski. His work enchants me. Yet I don’t always know what they are referencing. Reading a transcript of a lecture by him I began to realise why. He doesn’t always know what they are about either! He speaks of these pieces of poetry or poetic prose as ‘things in their own right’. They aren’t about anything, they are the thing.
Here’s one of his shorter pieces that beautifully illustrates his style:
A fly appears on my book and I watch it’s enamel tongue
lick the page. In its eye I see all the sleepers lying under
the voices that a bee has brought into the world. The fly
has a furious mind and yet holds the sleepers gently like
a string of bells that toll to themselves in a breeze.
In an animistic way they are beings that don’t point to something else. They are whole and complete in themselves and are not about anything, any more than the fox or the bee are ‘about something’. So, in my own small way, I’m trying to create written pieces that definitely have a message, that paint that picture of a thousand words, however you may have to read between the lines. You may need to let the piece settle in to you for a while, to explore the edges of it. To really ‘see’ it as an entirety, a whole.
So far it’s going ok. Readers are kindly commenting on these rather abstract creations and mentioning how they speak deeply to them.
Fabulous poetry dear Jason, I am just loving this work of yours. Powerful.
Love your writings
Gives me goosebumps and shivers of Pleasure
Jason this was wonderfully pure and magical. We are watching the film, but you had all the atmosphere and the Being There and witnessing it. The whole other dimension. You have captured that moment perfectly and given us that extra dimension with your poetry – no one else can put this across because it is your experience, and your words are given as and with the gifts you bring along with your films. I feel honoured to have shared this moment, this crow dance, and I hope you present many more films along with your poetry. Please . . .Always speak your own words. The words and the films and the way of your sharing are the delivery of this gift of your sharing, with us all. Thank You.
To not craft more of these would be a loss Jason!
Thank you for such beauty….
This is what I want. My work here is done! Fear not though, not all of my work will be abstract and conceptual. There is, and will be more, pieces of contemporary nature writing albeit with a light dusting of my particular twist.
There are books in the pipeline too. Small volumes initially, leading to a bigger book being. One that may in some small way break new ground as I try to mix good nature writing with high quality photography. This will be a merge of two traditional genres: nature writing books that are sparsely illustrated in black and white, if at all, and the photo book, full colour or silky monochromes presented on fine paper stocks but with few words.
Will this work? I don’t really know to be honest. Maybe it all comes down to economics. But it will be beautiful. It will be land based. And it will be truthful. Beauty and Truth being the two yardsticks against which I measure my work.
Are you up for coming along for this particular ride? I do hope so. I’ll be crafting a weekly email of updates and if you’d like to be a recipient please use the box below to tell me where to send them.
Let’s see where this journey takes us.