‘Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky’ – Kahlil Gibran
The spring skies outside my window never cease to astonish me. In winter they were mostly white, pale grey, nothing to remark on or get excited about, but in other seasons they can take my breath away with their stunning beauty. As sophisticated and worldly photographers, we’re not supposed to love sunsets – that eternal cliche – but to turn to less obvious subjects, play it a little more cool. But that’s the voice of cynicism speaking and anyone who doesn’t rejoice in the gobsmackingly gorgeous colours of the sky at dusk is surely lost to life’s simple pleasures.
Tree skeletons, too, are obsessing me. Something about the complexity of the myriad overlapping branches and the challenge of framing them in a way that creates some kind of order out of their chaotic beauty, is behind it. Something too, about the way they seem to reach into the sky, opening themselves up to it, not hiding themselves – as we might, as humans – because they’re bare and have temporarily lost the glory of their leaves. Clothed in green they have a different sort of beauty, but this starkness is somehow more honest – they are able to show themselves as they are, knowing that what they are is enough, and to accept the gift of the sky’s light and warmth to enable them to flourish again.
We photograph ourselves, constantly – Minor White said that every photograph is a self-portrait. Sometimes it isn’t until we write out our thoughts and feelings around what we photograph that we become aware of what it reflects to us, and we finally get the message. The sky fulfills its purpose, which is simply to be the sky, and the trees flourish because of it. The sky gives without expectation, and the tree receives without guilt. The tree gives back to the sky by growing, its leaves pushing oxygen into the atmosphere. It’s very simple, and quite perfect- the cycle of give and take, no keeping score, no feeling undeserving, no strings attached to the gift. Why do we, as humans, complicate things so much? Nature can teach us a lot about giving and receiving.
What do your photographs tell you?
And finally, the palest sliver of a fingernail moon, almost lost in a pastel sky.