An ascending hike to the summit of Anna Ruby Falls brought to mind the seemingly eternal nature of waterfalls—their powerful, dangerous, loud, overwhelming, beautiful and awesome properties. On the hike, I reflected on my role as a photographer: how my basic desire is to stop what’s in front of me, hold onto it, study it and show it to other people. The title Pocket Waterfalls came to mind. By photographing waterfalls, I could make them tiny and manageable. If a person could fit a waterfall in their pocket, they might feel comforted by the thought that they have control over the uncontrollable.
Process The Pocket Waterfalls series began in 2014, while I was a resident fellow at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences in Rabun County, Georgia. Since then, I have photographed waterfalls both in North Georgia and North Carolina. The photographs are made from 120 film negatives exposed with a Mamiya 7 camera. Each negative is contact printed onto cyanotype-coated Wyndstone Vellum, a paper with some translucency. Cyanotype is a process invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842 and is most commonly used in architectural renderings (blueprints). The cyanotype process that I use is chemist/photographer Mike Ware’s contemporary improvement on the original formula. It is more archival and prints a richer blue than the original.
I chose cyanotype for this work because it is by far my favorite process, and because blue is a precious and calming color. The Pocket Waterfalls are displayed in durable contemporary tintype cases so that a person can hold them, put one in their pocket, pull it out and reflect on the image contained inside throughout the day. We view hundreds of images a day on television and social media, but the images may be ugly, challenging or move too quickly. It is my desire to return the photograph to object form: to give people a reason to hold onto something beautiful and still and simply stare.