Leafy Beginnings

The West End, Dallas, with Renaissance Tower in the background. November 21, 2019.

I remember the first real picture I ever took, outside of those overexposed childhood birthday parties and Christmas mornings. I had to park in the back forty in college, and there was a pedestrian bridge to cross from the parking lots onto campus. On my way to class one fall morning, I saw a tree whose leaves had turned blood red seemingly overnight. It was spectacular. I don’t know where that picture is now, but it doesn’t matter: the image of that tree is imprinted on my mind’s eye. That’s why I love photography: you get to see what the photographer sees, through their lens, in that moment.

I don’t think a person wakes up one morning and decides to be a photographer. The best pictures, the ones that really move us, happen organically. We look through the lens of a camera and the world is made new. The photographer becomes an artist, painting the world through their unique perspective.

These days you’ll find loads of trees in my photographs. Sometimes it’s only a tree branch in the upper corner, others you can barely see the building through the leaves. When there’s a tree between the camera and the building, it creates the illusion that you (the viewer) are standing beside me. I have, quite literally, pulled off the road because of a vibrant or haunting piece of foliage only to discover an equally compelling piece of architecture behind it.

I have a thing for red trees and parking lots, it would seem. The juxtaposition (English degree hard at work here) between the historic and the modern in the scene above drew my eye as much as the trees did. If you’re a budding photographer, find what moves you, what makes you pull over and take that camera out of your bag. Find your red tree.