A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows they’re being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks.
– Richard Avedon
A couple weeks ago I went to Sunday in the Park at Oakland Cemetery here in Atlanta. It’s billed as a Victorian street festival and includes music, food, and an artist’s market. I went mainly for the picture-taking opportunities, expecting to want to photograph inside some of the spectacular mausoleums (opened up just for this event), but instead and as usual, got sidetracked with people photos. The folks in “period garb” were fun, but I especially liked the steampunk couple!
I’ve been calling them wild when, in fact, the horses of Cumberland Island are feral, as their ancestry includes horses that were once domesticated.
The population is not managed in any way, includes many bachelors and is left to roam freely in the salt marshes, among the abandoned estate grounds, within the glorious interdune meadows and along the beach itself.
They seemed tame and reconciled to the presence of people and their cameras.
It took all that I had in me not to reach out and stroke this foal’s sweet blaze.
“All the wild horses
tethered with tears in their eyes
may no man’s touch ever tame
may no man’s reins ever chain
and may no man’s weight ever lay freight your soul
and as for the clouds…”
There are just a handful of places to find such horses, the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague being the best known, but these are said to be longer-backed and longer-legged than those to the north.
Never mind that the setting is otherwise gorgeous and pristine.
Some conservationists concern themselves with the environmental effects of their population on a sensitive ecosystem; a population largely without predators (save the occasional gator, I guess) and one which is considered non-native, while others are more concerned with the welfare of the horses themselves. Like gypsies, they wander in family groups, constantly on the move and prone to defend whatever territory they happen to be in at the moment.
None of that much mattered to me. They were beautiful. And photogenic.
stepped on a plane and found yourself transported to another world?
where wild horses wander amid the ruins of a great island estate?
where the shadows of trees hold anhingas and wood storks?
and life birds fly past in squadrons of color or shades of gray?
where gators smile to lure the unknowing closer to the edge of their world?
where pelicans pose dockside for a portrait?
have you ever lost your breath to the beauty of a sunrise?
I’m like an 11 year old just back from sleep-away camp with a hundred run-on sentences about everything I saw, everyone I fell in love with, every little thing I did… words and photos are just beneath the surface… just waiting for my head to stop with all the spinning.
I’m also painfully slow to process new experiences which is why I talk in lists and pictures, sometimes.
Bear with me…