“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fool” -- John Muir
Weather can be unpredictable and devastating. As humans, we are completely subject to its will and affected by its temperament. In 2011, Texas endured seven months of drought and resulting forest fires leading to the death of millions of trees across the state. Since that record-breaking summer, I have been investigating the immediate and long term changes in the landscape. This series, Waiting for Rain, explores parks and wildlands that have been most affected by nature’s destructive power. I have travelled from drought-thinned Houston parks to fire ravaged Bastrop over the past three years, hiking and driving hundreds of miles to capture emaciated forests and their absence. As trees die and fall back to earth, they fertilize new growth in their wake, thus continuing the cycle. This series of images represents a meditation on the beauty of creation and destruction with a focused eye on the resilience of nature.
The convergence of natural forces and human intervention can have unforeseen and devastating results. Dry, accumulated undergrowth creates perfect kindling for forest fires as the U.S. has seen across the West over the past decade. But even without fire, the effects of drought are severe. Houston parks have been thinned to the point of obscurity after the death of so many trees made trailways unsafe for visitors. Rain has returned to the region and these locations continue to change. I document the gradual evolution of the landscape by looking specifically at preventative measures and reforestation efforts instituted by the park service and private organizations, as well as the fertile growth resulting from fire. Within these environments, I am observer and participant -- merging with the landscape as a performer and framing the scene as a photographer. My presence in the picture frame is a natural progression of the creative process. The trees stand in for the people and communities across Texas; each photograph is a portrait of survival. The trees, dead or alive, relay their own narratives to the viewer. Even in death, as their bark turns an ashen hue, and their leaves wither, they retain a regal presence that is mournful and beautiful.