Have you ever found yourself photographing on a particular theme? A few years ago, I noticed that I was taking a lot of photographs of “edges,” and decided to explore further.
We live in a world of boundaries. borders, and edges – things that separate and things that connect. Stanly Plumly, in his book, The Marriage in the Trees, writes,
“In ornithology there occurs the phrase, the abrupt edge, which is the edge between two types of vegetation… where the advantages of both are most convenient.”
Plumly says that natural edges can be very gradual or more abrupt, like a forest’s edge. On the edge can be found the greatest diversity, chaos, danger, and opportunity.
When I first heard this quote by Plumly, I was blown away. The edge is the place where things happen! Risk and opportunity go hand in hand.
A Project is Born
While walking the beach in Florida with my friend (and poet), Norah Oulahen, we talked about this theme of edges and came up with the idea to do a project together. I provided photographs with “edges” and she wrote poems inspired by the photographs.
This image below reminds me of those conversations.
Imagine how many deep talks and silent thoughts occur while thousands of people walk the beach every day. The surf constantly takes away the footprints but the thoughts and conversations live on.
“I think we are always running from the edge. We want to feel safe. There are risks waiting or disappearing there. Our lives are touched by rim hugs.” ~ Norah Weir Oulahen
This image was taken on the Western coast of Ireland, a place where my ancestors came from and set sail for Canada. As I stood on these rocks, I thought of them leaving their homeland for the unknown. Standing at the edge of a vast body of water sometimes makes us think of people we miss and love, whether alive or dead.
“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut, from ThinkExist.com
This is one of those photographic opportunities that you have to train your eyes to see. An ordinary field, yet extraordinarily beautiful when we see the textures, the lines (or edges), and the layers of colour.
Another poem and photo from the Gulf of Mexico. Instead of footprints in the sand, we explore what happens to all of our thoughts at the end (or the edge) of the day. We need to rest and let them simmer.
This is just one way to approach a body of work. You could create your own around a place, a colour, a subject (i.e. hands or solitude), a type of photography (impressionism or black and white). There are so many possibilities. Currently, I’m working on a project on abstract impressions of my hometown.
“For me, creativity is the stuff you do at the edges. But the edges are different for everyone,and the edges change over time. If you visualize the territory you work in as an old Boston Bruins sweatshirt, realize that over time, it stretches out, it gets looser, the edges move away. Stuff that would have been creative last year isn’t creative at all today, because it’s not near the edges any more.” ~ Seth Godin
Have you noticed themes in your own photography? Or, are you currently working on a project?
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