had completed the composition for Day Six and went to add a spotlight
effect that would highlight Adam and add some drama to the picture.
I have done this many times, but something happened that never happened
before. Instead of the single white spotlight I expected three spotlights,
a red, blue, and green one appeared in a triangular formation.
How could this happen?
I only programmed in one spotlight. My first reaction was dismay.
I couldnít understand it and backed away from the screen to see
what it did to my picture.
The three spotlights were exact in their placement.
They not only added drama but color and mystery as well. Their position
in the image created a cross in the landscape that echoes the cross
shape of Adam, Eve, the butterfly and the bird. This was too perfect
to be an accident. Then it hit me, three lights, the Trinity, the
reason for the plural used in the verse for Day Six. The Trinity
was there on the day man was created.
Right away I also realized that the colors of the
spotlights were no accident. They are the primary colors, the colors
from which all other colors are made, and when combined as colored
lights make pure white light.
Chills went up my spine. I was not alone. I looked
around the small room knowing that I would not see anyone, yet certain
something much bigger then me was there. The Trinity put itself
in the picture. I knew my life would never be the same again, I
was given a gift, and a responsibility to share it.
When Gail woke up and saw the picture she started
crying. "Why did you put the Lamb and the butterfly in the
picture? Do you know they are Christian symbols"? Of course
I didnít. "And those three lights. They must be the Trinity.
How on Earth did you make this picture? I told her that I am not
so sure I did, and explained what happened during the night.
The verse in Day Seven states that on the seventh
day God ended his work. He then rested and sanctified the day. To
me this meant that He completed his work before resting. The image
was in my mind before I started it. I returned to the cosmic view
of Day One that shows earth as an empty sphere to show it as a completed
sphere in Day Seven. The hand and blue light symbolizes Godís sanctification
of the day. I placed Adam and Eve at rest in the center of the sphere
to show that man and woman were the reason for all that went before
When we returned to Sebring I still had two months
work ahead of me enlarging, polishing and learning the technology
that would make the prints archival. A year had passed before I
had a set of mounted prints.
Thanks Fred - that was wonderful.
You answered my question so beautifully. Your account
of the making of the Seven Days of Creation and the subsequent revelation
was totally moving. (My only regret is that I want to click on those
images to see them in detail!) Your journey was in more ways than
one. I would love to linger and stay on this subject - but we must
move on to your other works - I'm wondering if you feel the same
intensity about your other artwork? Your pictures of animals, for
instance. (This category seems to sit well with the Seven Days -
- from polar bears to elephants - more extensive travel!) Have the
other artwork categories, been as equally engrossing as the Seven
Days? The digital imaging process does bring an extra dimension
in that you can maybe express something more of yourself in an image?
Has that question of integrity been resolved now?
I have produced several large bodies of work that
have taken a year or longer to complete. Each has been intense and
all consuming. However, illustrating The Seven Days of Creation
turned out to be more than that. I experienced an epiphany that
changed my life.
Producing the Animals was a different kind of experience.
I love animals not only for themselves, but their variety, shape,
texture and design fascinates me. Each type is so unique, complicated
and perfect for their environment. Nature in all its design complexities
has me in awe. I see God in it.
When I did the photographs for the book Lies (People
Believe) about Animals I placed white seamless paper behind the
animals (pre-digital) and photographed them in B/W. I wanted to
show them without color or camouflage. The viewer was left with
just the shape and texture of the animal in the picture. This made
the image more abstract so that the power of an animalís special
design could be discovered.
When I got into digital manipulation my imagination
would take charge. I would photograph an animal (in the wild and
in zoos) and stare at its picture until the animalís design and/or
texture triggered a concept and composition in my mind. Each animal
in its uniqueness brought forward a picture. The animals stimulated
my imagination in the direction of beauty, symmetry and whimsy.
My imagination was now redefining reality. This was exicting and
energising, if not downright addictive. It was working on the Animal
Collection that got me hooked on digital and became the training
ground for the Seven Days of Creation.
As a photographer I express myself by what I choose
to photograph, in what light, at what moment. And to that I would
add my choices of camera, film, lens, shutter speed and F-stop,
all of which combine to make a photograph unique. With all the personal
choices involved my photographs cannot help but carry a part of
me in them. But they speak to our common experiences.
With digital imaging I add more of myself to the
picture. I add my fantasies that can challenge ones sense of reality
and my imagination that expresses my view of life and beyond.
The question of integrity is not an issue with what
is obviously a digital manipulation. The problem is with the digital
enhancement or altering of a picture that goes under the pretense
of being a strait photograph. For myself I put the issue at rest
by separating and clearly labeling my work as to what is a digital
image and what is a photograph.
You have described the artworks which are about
your discovery of "nature" - and I would like to ask you
about "Chicago", the photographs which were commissioned
by the Chicago Council on Fine Arts. I was about to say, that this
was a very different subject - an "urban" landscape. Then,
on your website, you say that on your return to Chicago, you saw
the city as "a part of nature, as an ant hill or bee hive would
be." An interesting idea. The two years that you spent producing
this photographic essay were obviously fascinating - and must have
given you much insight into people as well as the city. You have
3 books out and have work in major museums and galleries -all achievements
in themselves. Did you originally set out to be successful - and
do your commercial projects and artistry go easily hand in hand?
When you are living in a big city for awhile it
becomes its own reality. It is a world of man, and man and his affairs
become the world. It is easy to forget the power, grandeur and mystery
My spirit of adventure pried me away from Chicago
at a time that my career was blossoming. I, along with my wife and
8-month son, moved aboard our 35í sailboat and headed down the Mississippi
River to points South.
Man shrinks in importance when you are in a small
boat on a big ocean looking up at the universe. I turned my attention
and camera toward nature, the Wetlands in particular.
It was three years before I returned to Chicago.
I saw the city and its inhabitants as a part of nature. It fascinated
me and I was compelled to photograph it. I couldnít stop I would
roam the city daily with cameras ignoring my career and financial
After about a year of this I was all but broke.
I was out of balance and had to get some assignment work going.
I got into corporate and architectural photography.
My sense of aesthetics is what I got hired for. I would challenge
myself on each assignment to create photographs I would want for
my own. I enjoyed it.
When I was not on assignment I would go back to
photographing the city and its people. It was a never-ending theater
of human drama with an urban backdrop. This went on for five years.
Did I originally set out to be successful?
I got into photography because I loved it. I started
out doing magazine work. As a photojournalist I enjoyed witnessing
lives, places and events that would not otherwise be available to
me. I had reward in the knowledge that my work would bee seen by
large numbers of people and could help us understand each other
a little more. I am on a somewhat different path now but I never
expected to get rich, nor have I.
We each have to define success for ourselves. To
make a living at what I love to do, enrich the lives of other people
and leave something of value behind to mark my lives passage will
do for me. In this regard I always wanted to be successful and will
continue to strive.
Thanks for that Fred - an inspiring comment for
every aspiring photographer. It's not the material things that are
the most important in this life and you have given us some wonderful
insight into this question. Your experiences, of personal growth,
have surely come from intensive communication with nature and absolute
dedication to your work, in its every aspect. Your family too, have
experienced travel as not many others do. I think it is remarkable
that you all go off into the world of discovery together. A rare
family I think! Did you have a favourite place amongst your travels?
Is there a plan for the future - involving a new project, or further
travel? By the way, your web design projects are something else!
You gave the impression that you were a recent user of the computer
- but you're a natural! You obviously love the computer and the
interactivity of the web.
Carol, Thank you for your kind remarks.
My favorite place has to fall into two catagories.
For the beauty of the landscape and mystery it is the North of Napal.
For the most hospitible and welcoming people it was Thailand.
As for my plans for the future, I never force the
issue. The future has a tendency to reveal itself in the form of
opportunities and coincedences. I remain open to them.