“When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.” – Hermann Hesse
Today’s photo is not what I set out to create. Originally I’d intended to do a mini study in texture by photographing the landscape of a singular tree in macro. But as I was examining the tree looking for interesting compositions, I found myself pondering how all of its hills, valleys, cracks and scars came to be. Why is the trunk so gnarly in this particular spot, while over there it is rhythmically textured? Is it possible I was seeing a rabbit profile over here, and a face staring back at me over there? Take a look below at the sampling of photos from today. What do you see? The possibilities are endless…
Looking over the photos I collected, I felt as though the tree was trying to tell me its story through the surface of its trunk, and I began to think about how the story of people’s lives are so often written across their faces. As a portrait photographer these stories are revealed to me all the time – through the laugh lines, the worry lines, perhaps even a scar here or there. The way a person holds their head, plays with their hair, looks boldly or demurely at the camera tells me so much about who they are and what their journey has been. There is so much of life that reveals itself through a human portrait. Just as there is so much of a tree’s life that is revealed in its bark.
Working off of this idea of parallel life stories, I dug out a b&w photo that I’d taken of myself last year and superimposed it over an image from today’s project.* The result you see above is a bizarre marriage of myself and the tree – our stories intertwined in a single photo.