Collecting the Stories

Jason // July 28 // 12 Comments

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.

Don Domanski

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 this

Love your writings

Gives me goosebumps and shivers of Pleasure

Thank you

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.

Pure soul.

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.

See more Tales from the Land

  • So very glad to read this and see you, and Earthlight, blossoming stronger! Much needed soul in a world where beauty, wisdom, respect and awe are what will heal us….

    • Thank you Suzie. Yes, I am really stepping it up now as I see a growing hunger for a deeper connection with our natural world. Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement too. 🙂

  • I am always looking forward to seeing your work Jason, it comes from your heart and that’s a rarity these days 🙏

  • I love this. I totally agree about some pieces of poetry/prose being a thing in its own right. There are a number of pieces of writing that I treasure, but don’t understand. However, they resonate so deeply in my heart, on a subsconsious or perhaps even a higher level. Doesnt matter, they are gifts from their creators to those of us who are open to them.
    I particularly love when you write from your heart about the art you have created with your camera. It transforms the piece into something even more beautiful, deepening the connection. This has been something I myself struggle with regarding my paintings. I was told that they should stand in their own right if they are to be considered any good, but also like you, I love to write and feel the words are part of the creations. So thank you for sharing your thoughts today, you have inspired me to show up with my own words and put my creations, in their entirety out in the world. Cant wait to see your next offerings.

    • Thank you Aisling. Great to hear your thoughts on this and I’m pleased that you find inspiration in my work. Let’s keep this moving!

  • Fabulous idea Jason, this would be an incredible book! I look forward to seeing it produced and purchasing a copy of the first edition. Already today, as I watched Wood Wise Wood again, I wanted to say to you “Jason, you do realise these films will be your legacy, don’t you?” This is what you will leave behind for the World to enjoy (bit deep I know, sorry) – but a book – wow – that would indeed be awesome, to give insight to your thoughts, magic, prose and mystery as you were conjuring your magic into being. Well done Jason, keep going, keep being you – you have inspired some very shy fearful souls to step up and have a go. Thank you for all you do and share.

    • Thank you Paulina, the book has been somewhat sidelined for a short while but is now back at the front of the queue in a new form and all the better for the wait.
      I’m heartened by your comments here, and much encouraged.

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    About the Author Jason

    Jason follows his lifelong vocation as a countryside photographer who tries to catch the spirit of the places he visits. After decades working as a professional editorial photographer he now focuses much of his time on conceptual fine art photography, visual storytelling and in aiding others to follow their creative calling.