I apologise in advance to anyone who now has the song in their head and is now cursing me for mentioning Christmas songs in September.
If you’re a regular reader, you probably know that I’m the biggest country bumpkin around. (If you’ve just got here, hello- I hope you’ll stay!) You might also know that my first novel, which I’m currently editing, is about a disaster (like Hiromshima) occuring in a woodland full of strange Fae creatures and the subsequent mutations that occur. If you’re interested, it’s called Sarascyon and I’ll be posting an extract here soon.
I was a little apprehensive about visiting New York as I get a bit tetchy if there aren’t any trees. While I get inspiration from everywhere from the English coast to the gritty abandoned churchyard I see from the train on my way to London, I go to the woodland if I want to be calm. I feel at home with trees and there aren’t many in the Big Apple.
I live near a lot of parks- most are big, and if you walk far enough in, you can forget that there are roads to either side and the only paths become those you make yourself. I expected Central Park to be a green oasis of wilderness and sprawling trees within the city’s invasion of angles. I thought I’d escape from the traffic for a few hours between shoots- read my book and eat my sushi, so when I arrived and was nearly run over first by joggers and then by cars (there are ROADS in Central Park), I revised my opinion a bit. I am sure there are more eloquent ways to put this but… parks should not have angles.
And so my search for nature continued…
Luckily, I was staying in Brooklyn (with photographer Paul Ward). The garden at the back was a little rectangle of clearly very loved and cared-for land, chock-full of flowers, squirrels and bluejays that sound disturbingly like birds of prey (so much so that I, in a sleepy bleary-eyed state, thought an eagle was in the tree).
Just down the road was Brooklyn Botanical Garden so on my first day off, I took myself on an adventure. I’d have loved to shoot there- the amount of different themes and concepts that could have been done in there… Maybe one day!
A few days later, I dashed to an area of Brooklyn called DUMBO! (I think I was told it stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) to shoot with John F Cooper for his book Organic Portraits. There are some examples of the work in his portfolio- I’ve linked it. It’s in aid of the Rainforest Fund.
The project supports indigenous people in their efforts to protect their environment. It makes me feel ashamed of my species to know that our actions affect the lives of people who have no hand at all in the changing state of our planet, yet find their day to day life increasingly impossible. These people have the words to express what the voiceless flora and fauna also nearing extinction can not. They are in exactly the same situation, and give it a human voice- a perspective we can empathise with.
I tried to use this idea as inspiration for this part of our photoshoot.
Photographer: John F Cooper
I rose from my dream last night. I thought I saw them again- living columns that sang and swayed
But now, they are up there where the dead are. Too high for me to reach.
So when I woke, I wore their memory like the crown only I had, and only I remember
Long ago, trees, not memories, cast shadows on my face.