I have known Beth Moon for a few years and have always been in awe of the quality of her platinum-palladium prints, so much so that I featured an image of hers on the cover of a photography magazine I used to publish; so much so that I acquired a print of that image for my personal collection. It still hangs on my wall, in an honored spot.
Moon always infuses much of her own personality into her work, which more photographers should do. Whether it is the photographing of dead animals, trees or moving portraits of her daughters, the images are unforgettable. I was very pleased to see that quality transferred over into the confinement of a hard-cover book (Charta, 2013).
Page by page the images gently capture your attention. They don’t jump off the page at you they simply slide into your consciousness, to be enjoyed now but also to be remembered for further examination sometime in the future.
The five sections: Portraits of Time, Thy Kingdom Come, Odin’s Cove (Odin’s Cove #21, pictured below), The Savage Garden, and Augurs and Soothsayers, serve to introduce you to a whole new cast of characters, because whether the subject is alive or not, there is no doubt that they are characters, each and every one of them.
In “Thy Kingdom Come,” Moon photographs her daughters with animals that are no longer living. Steven Brown writes in the introduction that, “In these photographs of terrestrial angels, Moon seems to ask what heaven might actually look like ‘on earth,’ the ‘right place for love.’ In Moon’s photography, it looks very much like what is already here: ourselves in close company with the ravens and rabbits, the birches and bristlecone pines, reciting each other’s stories in time’s pathless places.”
In the afterword, Brooks Jensen (publisher, Lenswork) writes, “Beth Moon has a rare skill, indispensable to the successful artist: a cultivated sensitivity. She sees where others merely look, and her photographs reveal to us the transcendent reality she sees. …It is that world of imagination that is the testament of her acute sensitivity, just as her photographic prints are a testament to her exquisite control of the craft.
This is not a book to be viewed in a loud and boisterous place, but a book to be slowly observed in a quiet place. You may even have to remind yourself to turn the pages.