The Spring Edition
WINNER: The theme for this month’s photo challenge is spring. The winning entry is “Weeping Cherry Tree,” by New Jersey author and photographer Laury A. Egan.
Egan grew up around art and art-making. Her mother was a painter; hence, as a child, Egan was always surrounded by visual art. She started writing at a very young age — first, poetry and short stories, and then a novel. Yet, when it came time to decide about college, she chose visual arts over creative writing. “Why? I still don’t know,” she says, “but, as a result, my career start has switched over into the visual arts, and I took up photography as part of my class in graphic design.”
Yet, writing and photography have always “intertwined in an interesting way” in Egan’s work. “I think, as a photographer, you are more attuned to the little details of your environment,” she says. “As a result, oftentimes that “sashay[s] into verbal descriptions” — in a poem or a setting that she uses in one of her novels.
That kind of creative dynamic between the two art forms also marks Egan’s “Weeping Cherry Tree” photograph — the winning entry of this month’s photo challenge—as well as the poem it inspired.
In crisp spring air weeping cherry trees cascade pink onto a green lake; wind skims surface, pleating landscape into squares of jeweled mosaic, into reflective magic.
Weighted with blossoms, black branches bow to the ground, surrendering with humility and grace.
On a gray bench, embraced by swaying boughs, I sit, longing to learn the lessons of these trees, to be an errant petal light as flute music, or a trout, breaking the skin of water, flippant with joy.
I listen as a far-off whippoorwill calls and wish I were a bird so that I might answer.
© 2009 Laury A. Egan, Snow, Shadows, a Stranger (FootHills Publishing)
The story behind the cherry tree image is itself a story about spring. She was in Holmdel Park on a bright and sunny day when she noticed the cherry trees. They were “quintessentially spring, cheerful and bright,” she says. Hence, she decided to capture a few images and then submit them to this month’s photo contest. “Spring is a time of great beauty,” she adds. “Yet, there’s something about a weeping cherry tree, with its cascading structure, that is both beautiful and also a little sad.”
This “mixture of moods” is also present in a dramatic portrait of Egan’s “Rhododendrons” captured against the fog. The softbox effect created in this particular image adds to the mysterious mood that it evokes.
And yet, perhaps a more familiar mood associated with spring comes to life in “Morley in Spring.” The photograph shows Egan’s basset hound meticulously sniffing the daffodils, taking in the powerful smell of spring, reminding everybody what this season is all about.
Laury A. Egan also teaches fine art photography. She always urges themselves to ask themselves what made them take a certain shot. “If something [makes you] take that image, ask yourself why,” she reiterates. She also encourages her students to capture as many shots as they wish to “get it out of [their] system” and then “hone in” on what it was that stopped them in their tracks to “make” that image.
“As far as writing goes,” she adds, “the main thing is to sit down in your chair and do it.” She advises those who think they “have a novel in them” that “now” is always a good time to start writing that novel.
“You know, I work seven days a week, and so; as a result, I get a lot done. You really do need to be dedicated, patient, and you should go over your work [many, many times].” She edits her novels about forty times. Also, she reads her novels out loud, which is always a good way to pick up on edits that need to be made.
“And the other thing, too, is to get other opinions,” she adds. “[Ask] beta readers or educated friends, or [hire] a developmental editor. If you have a publisher, they often do this, too.” Getting other opinions is important, as is learning the Chicago Manual of Style, learning where to put a comma, and also carefulness and dedication.
“And that’s also true of photography,” she adds, “because you really have to know the structure of a composition in order to really make it work well, and in order to do that, you have to understand the elements of that composition.”
Laury A. Egan is the author of page-turners like The Ungodly Hour, Turnabout, The Swimmer, and many other books. Signed copies of Egan’s books are also available at River Road Books in Fair Haven, NJ.
To find out more about Laury A. Egan’s photographs and books — including The Ungodly Hour, Turnabout, and The Swimmer — visit her online at lauryaegan.com. Her books are also available on Amazon. For signed copies, check out River Road Books in Fair Haven, NJ – riverroadbooks.net.
Other entries worth mentioning:
David Meadow, NJ visual artist (davidmeadow.com): “The Coming of spring reminds me of new birth, light, happiness, and sun.”
The image of the elephant family [Tanzania] is so indicative of spring — a time of rebirth for the planet.
The image of the puffins [Iceland] captures spring as rebirth and new life in that it shows the puffins nesting, waiting to hatch their young. The puffins were nesting on the side of this cliff, waiting to hatch their young. Spring is a time of lush and beautiful colors, and their vibrant orange coloring against the lush green is also very striking.
Rob Silvagni, of NJ: “The coming of spring reminds me of…flowers, of course.”
The images capture Mother Nature coming back to life during the South American spring. The mixture of colorful flowers in the foreground, a pristine river near the bottom of the Andes (on the Chile side), and the tall, snow-covered mountains in the background make for breathtaking, unforgettable sceneries.
Louise Huber, NJ: “The coming of spring reminds me of the warmth of the sun, the beauty of flowers.”
Wild irises, Forge Pond in Brick, NJ.