About five years ago, I decided to close my portrait studio. After ten years of doing business headshots, real estate, pet and family portraits, I began to face the fact photography was a lot of work for little pay, and like radio, required a lot of energy to entertain and engage my subjects. From sweeping the walk (I live in the woods) to cleaning up pet hair and maintaining expensive equipment, it was not worth the effort any more. Like many other industries that have gone digital, people place less value on professional photography.
When I was contacted by Whole Trees last winter, I knew it would be fun and challenging to document the removal of ash trees from the Sheboygan Marsh and do it in an artistic way. Best of all, they only wanted the RAW files; their own graphics people would take care of image processing.
On a 4 degree day in February, worried about the how my camera and fingers would function, I photographed every dead tree still standing, those that were lying on the ground, and the process of cutting them. Yesterday, I went back to photograph the trees being loaded onto a semi. They'll be taken to Muscoda for processing, and then to Eau Claire where they will be used in a beautiful way in a new building. Several will make for gorgeous columns in the new educational building at the Marsh. The trees, in their whole state, are stronger than steel and last forever.
The shoot was a great opportunity to stretch my ability as a photographer and to play a small part in the mission: "At WholeTrees we believe in the regenerative potential of structural round timber harvested from well-managed forests and supplied to construction job sites via regional forestry and fabrication networks." See pictures of finishing buildings at wholetrees.com.