Q: How did you learn how to take photographs? Do you have any formal training?
A: I am self taught. I started with film, mainly black and white and color slides, and found that I did not have much control of the process, especially with color. I embraced digital imaging very early and taught myself how to use all the programs and the computer. It is important to note, however, that the computer and Photoshop and the like are not as important as the camera, and the camera is not as important as your vision and point of view, which people call style or voice.
I started with trees because their beauty drew me to photography and made me want to learn to use the camera. I felt that it was too late to learn how to draw, although I have now taken up drawing.
Q: Do you take photographs of anything but trees?
A: I photograph landscapes, not just trees. Indeed, for the past five years or so I have been involved in a project for the Olana Partnership which manages the home and studio of Frederic Church, the great Hudson River School painter. I have been taking photographs in the footsteps of Church, not merely photographing the sites but also expressing a 21st century vision, which shows the fragility of the sites. There was a show of my work at the Coachman's House at Olana in 2010. The work includes a series of photographs of Maine, Niagara and the icebergs of Newfoundland.
These projects have taught me a lot about art history. And the work with gardens has taught me a lot about garden history and design. These are areas in which I have no formal education but have been educating myself. I find learning delightful.
Q: Whose idea was it to produce a book about the trees of the Botanical Garden?
A: It was the Botanical Garden's. I had been photographing the trees for many years, and they had been producing calendars of the work since 2003. The calendars sold well, and the Garden had no book showing its vast collection of landscapes and its numerous varieties of trees, so it came to me and asked me if I would be interested in doing one.
Q: How many pictures did you take? How many are in the book?
A: I probably have more than 10,000 photographs from which I made a rough selection to give the Garden a range of choices. I gave the Garden about 1,200 photographs in all seasons. About 250 were chosen. Of those, a show of 18 photographs will be open until April 14 at the Garden's Ross Gallery. Further, a show of six photographs at the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram's Building, will be open until year end. The photographs in the two shows are very large, some as large as 60 x 90 inches.