Eye Photos


Winter landscapes continue to be a source of inspiration for me. Growing up mostly in the Loire Valley of France and the suburbs of Washington, DC, I didn’t experience extreme snow and cold until I went to college in Western Massachusetts. There I discovered the solace of silent walks through snowy fields and woods. Some of my earliest black and white photographs were of snow on trees and boulders, and I’ve kept up my winter habit. Now when I dress for winter hikes, my camera is the last layer I strap on over all the others. My eye relishes the graphic shadows and peculiar shapes that appear when sun shines on snow. This past week in Vermont, however, my best creative intentions were thwarted by the cold. With wind chill temperatures dipping into the minus teens, I could barely keep myself warm, and I had to give up on my digital SLR. The batteries drained so rapidly that I was able to capture only a few frames (and I thought my eyeballs were going to freeze against the viewfinder). Kept warm in an inside pocket, my iPhone camera performed better, but I couldn’t remove my gloves for fear of getting frostbitten fingers. So what was a photographer to do? Take eye photos, of course! Photographing with your eyes can yield surprisingly vivid images. We rely on our photographs to form our memories, so it’s a good exercise to go without a camera occasionally. The last hike before coming home was indeed memorable—a family of wild turkeys sliding down a hill; snow trolls looming in a cluster of dark pines; snow fields beyond the forest glowing blue and orange as the setting sun emerged beneath the clouds. Though I can only share them with words, I don’t think a camera could have done justice to any of the pictures I hold in my mind.