“Time is the shape of an old oak as the winds caress and sculpt the bark, defining hardship and beauty. Time is the trunk that splits apart in great age to accommodate the tempest. Evidence of time is revealed in furrowed bark of an ancient tree, gnarled, crooked, and beautiful.
Portraits of Change.
Portraits of Survival.
Portraits of Time.
I’d like to keep a clear picture, so if a tree is destroyed by storm, disease, greed or lack of concern, I will have a record of its power and beauty for those who were not able to make the journey. I photograph these trees because I know words alone are not enough, and I want their stories to live on. I photograph these trees because they may not be here tomorrow.”
Over the past fourteen years Beth Moon has traveled the world to photograph the “oldest souls” living on earth, its ancient trees. She has shared these portraits with us in her new book, Ancient Trees, Portraits of Time. Her images along with essays by Todd Forrest and Steven Brown makes this book a treasure.
We had the chance to ask Beth a few questions on her work.
The best portraits are taken when the photographer feels a connection with the subject, what connection did you feel to the subjects in these images?
It’s hard to describe the connection I have to these trees. To say I felt wonder and admiration is putting it lightly, rather it felt like being struck by lightning! Being able to visit these old trees was an experience that I wanted to repeat again and again.
Have you been able to revisit them?
Yes, there are a number of trees that I have gone back to and many others I would love to revisit. For me, it is especially interesting to see changes the seasons bring to the trees.
Did you always know that you wanted this body of work to be a book?
The deeper I got into the project and realized how challenging it was to get to a lot of these locations, it became clear that I wanted to share these images with people who would not be able to see them, so yes, I thought a book would be the best way to do this.
What do you hope people will take from this work?
I have a reverence for nature and certainly it is hard not to sense the majesty of these very large, old trees when in their presence. I hope it permeates my work to some degree. If this comes through in my portraits then I am satisfied. Ultimately, I would hope we could find a better way to live with the environment.
Thank you Beth Moon for sharing your work.
Portraits of Time
By Beth Moon
With essays by Todd Forrest and Steven Brown
This book can be ordered from Abbeville Press.
To learn more about Beth Moon please visit her site at, Beth Moon.
To read our interview with Beth please visit, “The Art of Seeing” and Odin’s Cove.