Inhalation I, Nantucket, Massachusetts, 1998

I find this image supremely challenging – because of other people’s reactions to it.

The first time I exhibited this image, over the space of a weekend, in front of this image, four women shared stories of personal loss – a friend, a son, a husband, a father. Over the years, this has happened more than sixteen times Years later, in front of this image, in the same location in the same room, I found myself discussing the death of my first wife with one of the first women to share her own story of personal loss. I could pass this off as coincidence, but that would be irrational. While it sheds a little light on this mystery, Jung’s concept of synchronicity furthers rather than solves it. I simply can’t explain this. This challenges me – and others. Though largely formed of conjecture, the discussions are interesting. Specific combinations of qualities, universal color codes, sacred geometry, archetypes, intuition, precognition … theories multiply. The mystery remains.

When I made this image I wasn’t aware of the themes of death and loss weighing on my mind or heart. I was totally absorbed in making the image. Now, it’s almost impossible for me not to think of it, though I can still see much more in this image.

What people share about works of art may change their own and other people’s relationships to them. What the artist shares about their relationships to the works of art they create often changes the relationships their viewers strike up with them. This process is often encouraged and sought out. It can work the other way too. What people share about an artist’s works of art may change the artist’s relationship with his or her own work. While this type of process is less typical, it raises an interesting set of questions to consider, “When, where, and in what ways is encouraging this exchange most beneficial?”

The process of communicating the experiences stimulated by works of art and the results of those interactions, which continue spreading in many ways, often producing both intended and unintended consequences, is part of the life of a work of art. Though not entirely in the control of the artist, it is not separate from the work of art. Works of art connect us in unique ways.

It’s interesting that the amount of energy imbued in a work of art is not limited to the amount of energy invested by the artist, more is added through others’ experiences of them. How strongly a work of art does this is one criteria, among many, for evaluating its quality and success.

How many ways can you encourage meaningful discussion about your images?

How many ways can you seek useful feedback about your images?

How many ways can you give yourself useful feedback about your images?

Find out more about this image here.

View more related images here.

Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.

The patterns found in a majority of my images were created by nature. Yet the surfaces in these pictures are not untouched by me. I have influenced them all: by selection of moment; by choice of perspective; by use of tool; by inclusion and exclusion with the picture frame; by further eliminations from and additions to what remains within the picture frame; by changing proportion; by orchestrating color; by creating symmetries; etc. I consider all of these opportunities to collaborate with the hand of nature.

With growing frequency, traces of my physical presence are displayed in my images. Sometimes I set things on fire. Sometimes, I push and pull smoke with my breath. Sometimes, I toss ash in the air. At other times, I create ripples in water. In this case, the circles and trails in the receding foam were created by placing my feet in the pulsing surf.

I prefer that the marks I make in nature remain ephemeral. In this way, the next person who experiences the same location I was in, is free to experience it in their own ways. If we’re lucky, we may even be able to compare our experiences. The only durable mark I leave in my process is the photograph itself.

The impulse to acknowledge my involvement in every moment and create something beautiful from it, has been growing stronger and stronger within me.

View / read more here.

Read the accompanying essay here.

View more books here.

New images displayed for the first time in my exhibit New Work 2011.


I often find the same compositional strategies, patterns, subjects and themes resurface in our work. Sometimes the ideas from two different images merge into a new one. I pay close attention to these visual bridges as they help me understand the both the similarities and differences between individual images and series.

In Inhalation 29 two series (Inhalation and Suffusion) cross-pollinate.
For more on this read my ebook Combination.

The exposures for this image were made in Iceland.
Learn about my Iceland digital photography workshops here.


I recently produced these two images Inhalation VA & B while completing the long-standing series.

I only use the same source materials in composites when I want there to be a strong connection between the separate images. I like to produce serial images, where a change in state is displayed between the separate frames. I like the sense of disappearance between these two frames. And I like that even though an empty space is left by the absence of the ice, the space left behind is still very full.

More than one picture is required to produce a body of work. The separate images within it reinforce each other. I sometimes find the same is true of individual images within a series.

When does a situation benefit from multiple images and serial images? It’s a guiding question I hold with me wherever I go.

The source images for this image were exposed at Jokulsarlon during my annual Iceland workshop.

Find out about my Iceland digital photography workshops here.

Find more images here.

Find my books here.


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