I didn’t like nature until I started taking photographs.

Dancers Taimy Miranda and Joan Rodriguez
Dancers Taimy Miranda and Joan Rodriguez

Get notified of new Blog PostsI liked the symmetry and convenience of the city. Nature was itchy and slow. Architecture is fascinating.

When I moved to Idaho, that began to change. So much of the city ends up on a hiking trail or under a tree. I began running when I got there and this deliberate meditation let me consider space with a different mind. The foothills were private for me and I began to notice things.

When I got the idea to start photographing people in nature, noticing more specific things in these forms outdoors began to grow. I watched how rocks had evolved and how they might be perceived, framed inside of a rectangle. And then the back and forth of seeing a finished photograph and recognizing missed opportunities turned my eyes back to nature to understand it more fully. Now when I’m outdoors, my instinctive response is to study it obsessively. My eye moves through in a fractal spiral, understanding not only the moments, but also the larger plan that makes each part possible. The beginning of that is as an artist, but this has brought me to a place of being nourished by nature in my whole person. When I am driving cross-country, what used to be a monotony of endless horizon, now has my eyes darting everywhere. I pull off the road a lot just to take in what hardly seems real. Nature is an adventure and a miracle.

Dancers Taimy Miranda and Joan Rodriguez

When photographing people who are naked, there is another very important element: privacy. I experience these spaces at their best in the meditative quiet of feeling alone and I hope to include some of that in the feeling of images I make. I also feel so protective of the models I work with and never want to capacitate an awkward encounter of having to hide from hikers. This adds a complicated component in finding places to shoot.

I have been scouting in LA. This city is bursting at the seams with people. Every nook is pressed against another to make way for more of us. There is nature everywhere, but it seems there is a house or a car or a person right up to the edge of every leaf and twig. Everyone is jockeying for space, whether it be a place to live, a spot to relax, or a place to make art. This has made the hunt for places to make photographs infinitely more complicated. It doesn’t seem possible to find a series of adjacent spots but instead I have settled on a collection of single places.

There’s something that feels expert in this, in me. I don’t feel daunted by the challenge. I am fortified by the chance to dig deeper and explore more. There is a really easy path to be mad at Los Angeles and complain about the traffic, to complain about so many people. But the things I do are rarely just about the things I am doing. In much the way that working with a model is more about the exploration with that person, to see what new things can be opened up in both of us, than it is for just making a beautiful photo; the process of finding a place to shoot is more about being an adventurer and making space to be alone than it is to fulfill a task for a later date.

6 Comments

  1. Nice writing, Trey, not to mention photography. The first house I lived in, as an infant, was in Benedict Canyon, in 1938. Plenty of nature around then, I’ll tell you, specifically rattlesnakes. Do I remember this? No. But I do remember my mother telling me that she was confronted by one on the path leading to the house when she was bringing me home from the hospital.

    1. Why thank you Ms. West. I looked at Benedict Canyon on Google Maps. Thanks for the tip. Hard to believe anything that close in has any space to roam. You had a ritzy zip code. A snake on the way home from the hospital is some powerful mojo. That sounds like it came from a dream. It certainly portended a helluva life to come.

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