Portraits of Time is a series of ancient tree portraits from around the world that explore time and survival, celebrating the wonders of nature that have endured throughout the centuries. This project of over twenty-three years has taken me to many parts of the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
Many of the trees I have photographed have survived because they are out of reach of civilization; on mountainsides, private estates, or on protected land. Certain species exist only in a few isolated areas of the world.
The criteria I use for choosing particular trees are basically three: age, immense size or notable history. I research the locations by a number of methods; history books, botanical books, tree registers, newspaper articles and information from friends and travelers.
The oldest trees that I have photographed have lived up to 4,000 years old. Many overcome extreme obstacles in their effort to survive, their very forms a testament to their resilience. All of them remarkable!
Old trees are biologically critical. They contain superior genes that have enabled them to survive through the ages, resistant to disease and other uncertainties. Their genetic heritage is invaluable for future research and reforestation. The disappearance of old-growth forests may be one of the most serious environmental issues today.
Standing as the earth’s largest and oldest living monuments, I believe these symbolic trees will take on a greater significance, especially at a time when our focus is directed at finding better ways to live with the environment, celebrating the wonders of nature that have survived throughout the centuries. By feeling a larger sense of time, developing a relationship with the natural world, we carry that awareness with us as it becomes a part of who we are. I cannot imagine a better way to commemorate the lives of the world’s most dramatic trees, many which are in danger of destruction, than by exhibiting their portraits.