- The initial journey
Born and raised in a quiet and unassuming country such as Ireland, my own destiny was never imagined to be great. I never retained dreams above my station and so I quietly went about building a “normal” and little life.
What skills I developed were typically done for the love of the subject, rather than an aim to be great at it and so I became self-taught in most areas that I am now considered proficient in.
My parents, while becoming giants in their own circles, kept my siblings and I real … ensuring that our feet stayed on the ground. I am fortunate to still have a brother and sister alive and despite any successes or failures along our lives, we three have managed to remain real people.
So by the time I became moderately good with a camera, my focus was not to really develop it into anything beyond a satisfying passion. I was really just taking pictures for family and friends and sharing scenes and encounters along the way that I was fortunate enough to witness. Particularly after I had moved to Florida, my photography began to bring an insight into their lives that historically we all had only witnessed in magazines and on TV.
When my Dad had a horrendous accident in 2012, to where he spent the last two years of his life unable to speak or use his hands, my immediate mission became to try to channel some of my access to wildlife and the natural world into his hospital room through printed picture. Walgreens loved me as for the next couple of years I printed thousands of pictures …. Each week sending out a letter with pictures of some trail or something of the previous weekend.
My Mom would visit him daily and once or twice a week would read my letters to him while he thumbed through the images and saw the world through my eyes.
After he died, I continued the printing and writing and my Mom became the welcome recipient of whatever I could unearth and stick in a letter. Again, thousands of images made it across the Atlantic, accompanied annually by calendar and book of my favorite shots of the year.
It was a feverish activity that took on more intensity as she too succumbed to old age and became a nursing home patient for the last nine or ten months of her own life. We would often talk about the trails and the pictures that were in the letters and when she too died a few months ago, there was an awful temptation to stop dead in my tracks as the very purpose of my trails appeared to have died with her.
It took a few weeks and a scattering of ashes and I found myself returning to the same trails and visiting with them both with each step along the way.
They often share the twilight moment with me when colors define the gap between heaven and earth. They gasp along with me when a hawk or eagle pulses close enough to me that I can feel the air beneath their wings. The lean with me as I squint into the inner-world of a beautiful flower that still retains the drops from an earlier rain, or admire the dew-covered web as it glistens in the newborn day.
At times I may find myself in solitary stroll along a trail, but the truth is, I am never alone.