There are millions of fetishes out there. Sexual. Professional. Libational. Nutritional. We humans all have our weaknesses. Hell, I even heard of woman who is obsessed with drinking gasoline. Gasoline? Every day is a learning experience I guess. My first encounter with a tree was when I was about five. We had this slanted maple in the front yard of my parents house that just begged to be climbed. It was an early spring day at age five that I climbed that sucker for the first time. I remember it so vividly, blue hooded sweatshirt, jeans, white Nikes with a red stripe. I remember the knees scraping along the bark as I squatted my way up that thing. Lime green budding leaves of spring. Blue skies with high puffy clouds. A brisk breeze in the air. Maybe my obsession started there? Are there any kids that don’t love to climb trees? I think it is a right of passage. Those trees got bigger and bigger as we got older and evolved into other trials. I went to bikes, then to skis, then to rock, and then full circle again.
For the last twenty years of my life, one of my main obsessions has been photography. I have lived it, breathed it, fretted over it, cried over it, and fought it exclusively every day. I can tell you that if you can visualize it, visualize anything, you can make it happen. Think about the placebo. P.O.S. The power of suggestion. Maybe that is where our fetishes come from, a place we cannot stop turning deep in the folds of our gray matter. A reality we just need to taste. Day in and day out. “It’s like acid in your veins.” Maybe. Those freakin’ trees of my youth have become somewhat of a fetish of my adulthood. If I have a camera anywhere near me, I am going to shoot the shit out some poor tree somewhere in the world. I spent days working trees in China, an afternoon in a backyard quiver in Hawaii, weeks of bristlecones and pinyons in Colorado, and now the firs and maples of the Pacific Northwest. I can smell those twisted and gnarled formations of Big Sur the second I exit the plane in San Fran-like a bloodhound on an escaped con.
It is safe to say that trees do it for me. I am a whore for them. What is it? Their lines. Shapes. Trees are sexy. You can spend hours on just one seeking a literal composition or breaking it down to the most abstract of forms. Broken lines, smooth lines, crooked lines, disrupted lines, burnt lines, dead lines, living lines, limitless. I can’t stop nor would I ever want too. Maybe some day, somewhere I will be able to put them to rest, but for now the obsession continues. I can’t wait to see what I will find out there in the forest tomorrow, or the next day, week or month. I know they will be there sitting waiting for me to train my eye on them, not with hatchet or saw, but with a black box full of technology. My friends are now getting into it too. Whenever we are out shooting they point out what they think might make a good composition and inevitably they are fueling the fire. A bonfire now with gallons of gasoline thrown on it.
In a way maybe the need for those trees is my way of exploring a little environmentalism? They do create the oxygen we need to breathe and they need our CO2. We are destroying them by ten-fold on a minute by minute basis. And in turn we will probably destroy ourselves. Plant the trees. Save the trees. If for no one else then a self-proclaimed professional photographer, writer and tree whore. Ok. I need to go have a cigarette. I hope that was as good for you as it was for me. If you need to find me, I have a date with some wood, out in the woods.