Monastery, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2008
I was about to photograph the repeating rhythms and simple patterns on this bench below the ornate rhythms of the fence when this monk came by and sat down. He offered a focal point for the image that creates a striking change of pace. The rhythms here are insistent and are made more prominent by the light that strikes them. The monk sits in a chair next to the bench, and looks back at us from the shadows. When we have an image based largely on rhythm and pattern, it often can be effective to break those rhythms with a focal point. That is what I do here. The image, which began as a study of rhythm and pattern, concludes as an environmental portrait of the monk, with the rhythm and pattern now serving as context.
River’s edge, Hoi An, Vietnam, 2007
The Thu Bon River flows inland to Hoi An from the South China Sea. From the 16th to the 18th century, it made Hoi An an international trading port. Today Hoi An is a World Heritage site. The two figures and two boats at the edge of the river repeat each other, creating a rhythmic focal point for this image. I made this image at sunset, taking care to emphasize the repetition by making the tourists on the bridge in the background slightly darker and softer.
Clothesline, Sadec, Vietnam, 2008
I began by photographing the clothes and towels themselves, mainly because of the red and yellow colors. Moments later their owner arrived, bearing more clothing, followed within minutes by a vegetable vender who parked her cart right in my frame and went to work. Such is the ebb and flow of life in this Mekong Delta community. The row of hanging clothing and towels, and the railing on the upper story of the building, create the rhythms and patterns in this image.
Monks moving on, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2008
Moments before packing my cameras up and leaving for home, I saw these Cambodian monks heading home as well. It made an appropriate farewell image for my fifth visit to Southeast Asia. There are layers of rhythms and patterns in this image that not only carry the eye from side to side, but draw it back into the image as well. A row of posts fill the foreground, the monks occupy the middleground, and a metal fence imprinted with horizontal bars creates a rhythmic background. I like the way the umbrella at left breaks the frame, and extends the sweep of this image beyond its boundaries.
San Felipe de Neri, Albuquerque, New Mexio, 2007
Albuquerque's oldest church, San Felipe de Neri is made of adobe. Named after King Philip of Spain, the church has served the city under the flags of Spain, Mexico, the New Mexico Territory, the Confederacy, and the United States. I built this image around the contrasts in both the design of the crosses and the colors. One cross is starkly simple, the other more ornate. The adobe building, shot at sunset, is golden brown, the trim white, and the sky deep blue. What makes these contrasts work together? Geometric repetition. The crosses repeat vertical and horizontal thrusts. Three roofs repeat an inverted “v” shape, pulling the viewer’s eye through the image.
The road to Ship Rock, Ship Rock, New Mexico, 2007
Ship Rock is the erosional remnant of the throat of a volcano. It was originally formed 3000 feet below the earth's surface and exposed after millions of years of erosion. Huge dikes radiate from the central formation in the distance. A landmark in Northwestern New Mexico and Northeastern Arizona, this huge rock is visible from as far as fifty miles away. The rock itself, which resembles a sailing ship when seen from one side, appears as a rough triangle here. I was drawn to this scene because of the triangular shapes at either side of the cattle crossing, framing the entrance to the road. The ridge that leads to Ship Rock also offers several implied triangles. Triangular shapes repeat throughout this image, linking the foreground to both the middleground and background.
Stairway to heaven, Laguna, New Mexico, 2007
A mural on the back of San Jose Mission Church at the Laguna Pueblo near Albuquerque mysteriously extends its influence upwards, along a glowing wall. That glowing wall repeats the path of the curving painted steps as it soars out of a stylized painting of the mission and continues its flow along a diagonal path towards the upper right hand corner, leaving us to imagine where all the energy expressed here might be headed.
Aspen, Lukachukai, Arizona, 2007
We not only traveled through deserts and canyons -- we had a chance to drive though mountain scenery as well. This stand of Aspen drew our attention while on the road through the Chuska Mountains in Northeastern Arizona, near the New Mexico border. I made this image through the front windshield of a moving car. The diagonal ranks of Aspen trunks, broken only by a single evergreen tree, repeat their vertical thrusts. The trunks are framed on top by a repetitive diagonal of leafy clusters, and on the bottom by the diagonal flow of shrubs.
Morning coffee, Pulau Ubin, Singapore, 2007
Ubin Island is just a short bumboat ride away from Singapore. We spent a day exploring its hills and quarries. As we disembarked, we passed this woman having her morning cup of coffee. I organized the image around the repeating rhythms created by the chairs that face, and ultimately embrace, her. The verticality of the back slats is subtly repeated by the ribs on her cup, while the pattern of her shirt and the curve of her hair echoes the curving backs of the plastic chairs.
Clearing storm, Singapore, 2007
A day of rain ends with dramatic cumulous clouds over Thian Hock Keng, the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore, built in 1842. The curving shape of the clouds are repeated by the curving temple roof top decorations, integrating the work of nature with the work of man, and bringing a supernatural touch to the image.
Memorials, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Malacca, Malaysia, 2007
Rows of memorial tablets commemorate the dead at this old temple. Typically, such tablets are elaborate tributes. This group, however, is not. The tablets are simple blocks of inscribed wood. Photographs of the dead are often tucked in next to them. An accidental fire has singed and discolored both the tablets and the photographs. I layer this image by anchoring it with three haunting, badly discolored memorial photographs. The rhythmic repetition of the tablets moves the eye back to a second layer and three more photographs with smaller, less distinct detail. The third layer contains more repetitive rows of tablets, gradually fading into soft focus. The rhythms create a pattern that symbolizes the inevitable. This haunted image reminds us that life and death is a continuous process, without end.
Muslim prayers, Malacca, Malaysia, 2007
These men were praying before an open window, giving me the opportunity to dramatically backlight the scene and stress their reverent posture. As I was shooting this scene, I noticed the curve in the building wall across the street. I wanted to fully integrate it into my image. The men were repeatedly bowing, and as they bowed, their backs curved. I was able to match the curve in one man’s back to the curve in the wall behind him, creating a rhythmic echo that unifies the image. The curving shapes within the small fence at the window reinforce the rhythms of the curving back and wall. By unifying these curving shapes, I underscore the importance of the bow, which indicates a willing submission to a higher power.