Sunday, July 7, 2013

using photos from where I live to illustrate a nationwide book

post #145
         Finally it is back to the effort from a few posts ago to share what I do, what is my work, what is this being a photographer all about.... What I am writing about now is an important piece of the puzzle.
         I was fortunate to start out being a photographer with a major project.  It didn't seem like work at first, but it really was.  I had received an advance AND I was training myself at the same time. 
          First, George Ella Lyon's editor, Richard W. Jackson, agreed to look at some of my slides, to see if my work would be a match for the words she had written.  Soon I heard that I was taken on as the photo-illustrator for that book -- with a three month deadline.  
       The book's title is Counting on the WoodsThe book is literally grounded in a sense of place, by words and by images.  I had a lot of my material nearby -- the woods, a willing neighbor, our streams and nearby grape vines.  The Canada geese, the killdeer eggs, and the newly hatching red-winged blackbirds all lived close by, in the next county to the west. I just had to find them.
       An illustrator takes the words given to her and does what she can, relying on her own creative impulses and inspiration.  I could have used other places and other ideas, but I was able, in this case, to use a place I love and where I happen to live.  This combination certainly made for an intense experience, to say nothing about everything I had to learn about photography in order to pull it off.  Whew!  It did help that 1997 turned out to have a wet, cool spring which meant growing things lasted longer than usual.  This gave me more of a chance to find what I needed, one photo at a time, during a three month period that I will never forget.  
       I have written quite a bit about this experience over time, but today I will start with the author's words. JUST LIKE I STARTED.  And what I would suggest is that you, the reader, take these words and look into your own imagination to see what images could be used to illustrate them:

to the waterfall
given for all

One path, a stick for a staff.

Two birds, daybreak's words.

Three bugs in the moss rug.

Four worms, how the earth turns.

Five nests

   where new ones rest.

Six tracks.

Who's coming back?

Seven stones,
    the little creek's home.

Eight flowers
    fed on dirt and showers.

Nine vines,
    earth to sky they climb.

Ten trees
    whose innumerable leaves

clean the air
     for everything
        that breathes.

        What follows are a few of the pages, and the cover, but the other photos will wait until next time.  Ha!  I just know some of you would cheat ("who has time for speculation??", you ask) and not give your own vision of what could be a chance to bloom.   
title page

Three bugs in the moss rug

Eight flowers, fed on dirt and showers

last pages, with me on my back on the forest floor, my elbows in tripod position....

the cover, front and half of the back

      I promise to continue this saga next Sunday.  If you are so inclined, you might just find a copy of the book in your local library.  Have a great week, everyone!

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