Forest Portraits


“Into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” ~John Muir

The Forest Portraits Series is an outgrowth of my work documenting the individual lives of trees in the Barkscape Series. An ongoing body of work that developed as my technical skills grew while I undertook conservation work documenting vulnerable and endangered forests including the Pando Aspen Clone, Bristlecone Pine, Whitebark Pine and Coastal Redwoods. As I spent more time in these forests and became intimate with their lifeways, I developed an awareness for the complex relationships between the light and land, trees and the communities they support. I also developed a deeper appreciation for how trees interact with humans and, profoundly shape our sense of place and time.

Trees arbitrate our experience of the natural world. Trees and their societies play an outsized role in human concepts of place, what is considered natural, what it means to be connected and, our concepts of time. Trees form the foundation for our sense of place as indicators of our location and, qualities about the land where we find ourselves. So much that the absence of trees can distort our sense of place and diminish our sense of well being. As it relates to time, trees actively leverage human memory and reveal the passage of time to us through their lives. For example, if I were to ask you about your favorite place in nature, you would almost certainly be able to recall something about the trees in that area. What’s more, the answer would come so readily, a deeper majesty may not immediately come to mind.Through their size, shape, form, colors and the ways they capture and spill light, trees form the background for nearly all our memories of nature. Something I do not consider a coincidence. After all, posing no physical threat and silently imprinting yourself on the foundation of human consciousness, memory, is arguably a well-tested approach to survival. An approach, that is at least as effective as bearing fruit, providing shelter or, stirring our sense of reverence and wonder. Operating on large scales of time, trees are architects who build the sky with water, carbon and light. Anchored in one place on a tilted world and tracking the sun as it moves closer and further away for centuries , their bodies, branches and families, form living lines drawn into space anywhere light offers advantage. Their growth lines, shaped by their oscillations over time and, the carbon they exchange with the atmosphere both provide humans another way to understand time. Tree ring studies and carbon dating form the basis for many scientific dating methods that allow us to see in to the past. In this way, trees help us remember a past that has no other witness.

My ongoing work with this series captures the ways that working with trees as a subject has helped me develop as a photographer and, develop a greater sense for how trees shape our sense of time and place. It is my hope, that this effort, will stir your sense of wonder and curiosity about these magnificent lifeforms. Lifeforms perfected over 200 million years ago, that stay in one place their whole lives, eat sunlight and never stop growing or feeding the communities they call home. Each one, a celebration of light and all that it makes possible.


*NOTE: Works in this series are only available for purchase via direct sale through Lance and his team. Please visit our Sales Page to begin a conversation on your favorite piece/s.


Forest Portrait: The S Tree

Forest Portrait: The S Tree | Redwood National and State Park

Although the popular concept of a "tree" is something straight, they in fact, grow every which way when facing adversity, barriers and life as a member of their societies. The story of this trees life, probably inside a fallen tree. Probably grew through the branches of another tree. Living on an alluvial flat where Redwoods rule, this tree likely, it fought for its life after being partially buried in a massive floods that can lay 2-4 feet of silt down. Silt that bends, twists and weighs down smaller trees.

Forest Portraits is an outgrowth of my work documenting the individual lives of trees in the Barkscape Series

  • Up

    View from the inside of a fire-scarred Giant Sequoia in Crescent Meadow of the Sierra Nevadas. Although it may appear dead, Giant Sequoia can promote new growth from cuttings, root shoots or. These groves, celebrated by naturalist John Muir, features a menagerie of young, middle aged, old growth and dead Sequoia Trees each and all able to re-write the script of what is living and dead, big and small in a single view. ⠀

  • Nurse Tree

    Nurse Trees are common in Old Growth Forests and are especially spectacular in the Pacific Northwest as as winds, rains and light create a unique landscape for them to take root. The downed Redwood will feed this tree for hundreds of years to come. It will also providing a modicum of protection as Redwood Trees are naturally resistant to fungus, bugs and fire.

  • The Old Man of the Lake

    The Old Man of the Lake is a 30 foot long portion of a Hemlock tree that has been circulating the deep blue waters of Crater Lake since at least 1896, when it was first noticed. Many stories abound about its origins, all signs are, it met its death in a landslide from the steep slopes. Not an origin story, but about how the end of life tells how trees teach us about the land, scientist track the tree's location to monitor currents.

  • Bloom!

    A rare Joshua Tree in full bloom near the end of Spring. Neither deciduous nor, cacti, Joshua Trees are pollinated and bear fruit in the Mojave Desert of California with help of rare moth uniquely adapted to pollinate the picturesque tree. Absolutely unique in the world and, the land that it inhabits were first recorded and became the object of wonder for a gardener who shared samples with a New York garden club. An effort that led to protection of the land the trees call home.

Forest Portrait: The Giant's Repose

The Giant Unmasked

Pando is the world's largest tree comprised of 47,000 branches and covering 106 acres in Central Utah. Verified by genetic research in 2008, the tree has become the subject of fascination and research on site and across the world. Not only because it exists; but because it fate is uncertain on a number of fronts as deer, fungal and bacterial infections leave the tree fighting for its future on three fronts. Here, one of the branches that suffers disease has released its skin.

A deeper understanding about how trees interact with light, the land and one another. How trees interact with humans and profoundly shape our sense of place and time.

  • Forest Portrait: Council on the Floating Tree (The Sage and the Mantis) [For Lily]

    Along the remote northwest edge of Mt. Rainier National Park lies the Carbon River Rainforest. A temperate rainforest forged by a confluence of unique geologic forces. Framing the eastern edge of the rainforest, the Carbon Glacier; the thickest (700 ft.), longest(5.7miles) and lowest-reaching glacier(3500 ft.) in the United States outside of Alaska. Tracing the southern edge of the rainforest, the Carbon River---formed by run-off from the mountain and annual melts of the Carbon Glacier that trickle in Fall and rage in Summer. As the waters move over the land, they deposit rich sediments for the trees to feast on. They also cut deep gorges that act to define a micro-climate uniquely suited to “trap” water. Where rich soils spread, where the warm ocean winds kiss the tree canopy, where the warm winds meet the chilled air rising from the glacier---a rainforest.

  • Lateral Root

    Light and water are vital to trees but not all trees go about the vital transaction the same way. To survive the rocky, arid wastelands of their habitat, Bristlecone grow lateral roots to anchor themselves and collect water that condenses and percolates rather than drawing water up. A feat considering the trees only grow 1/16 an inch a year. As wind erodes the land away, roots like these are revealed where they have taken hold. Provide a time capsule as the trees life over a span that can reach upwards of 5,000 years.

  • Prevailing Winds

    Highlighting the prevailing winds near the foothills of the Cascades in Western Washington, a Red Cedar (foreground) and Douglas Fir (Background) take different approaches to the travails of Pacific Northwest weather. The Cedar, likely battered down at one point in its life by another tree, slowed its growth and turned towards the winds using its heft to make it resilient where it matters most, the base. The sun hungry Douglas Fir in the background, maximized its early growth at the base, then flew straight up creating a sorted inverted claw in the ground.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • Tree at the End of America

    The Tree at the End of America is a Spruce tree that has taken root on the tip of Cape Neah, the northwestern most corner of the continental United States. A scant 3 feet tall with its roots tightly anchored in the rock face, its branches tell the story of its life on the cliff face. Branches short and wide to allow intense winds (over 100MPH) to pas through. Short sub-branches with well spread leaves to lessen the effects of the salty air. A slow growth cycle to keep the balance between survival and growth in balance.

Forest Portrait: Spruce Burl Forest

Spruce Burl Forest

The Spruce Burl Grove lives on the edge of a 100 foot cliff on the southern end of the Olympic Coast. In the direct path of fierce Pacific winds that reach up to 100MPH and carry dense salty air, the trees have formed a unique response to their environment; they grow large bulbous growths ("burls"), reaching up to 5 feet in circumference. Although still under study, the burls serve three purposes in their survival. First, the burls strengthen the trees trunks adding weight and girth critical to their early survival in the windy environment. Second, the burls act as an aerodynamic foil---routing hurricane force winds around their bodies. Finally, the giant growths help deflect falling trees knocked down by the strong Pacific winds. Although burls appear throughout the tree world, they tend to serve reproductive purposes. Here, in a small patch of land on the edge of oblivion, one adaptation for a radically different purpose, serves another.

Trees arbitrate our experience of the world...our sense of place, the divine, what is natural, what is means to be connected and, our concepts of time

  • The Tree of Life

    Walking along on Kalaloch Beach (Pronoucned "Clay-Lock"), on the southern edge of the Olympic National Park you will come to a Sitka Spruce locals call the "Tree of Life". A specimen that defies the all odds to live. A tree that "hangs" by it's roots in the loose cliff face while a waterfall undercuts the anchors it sets tosurvive 100MPH Pacific winds that rage two seasons a year. Neither the biggest, tree, or even a special species (A Spruce), The Tree of Life is a testament of fascination with the impossible in the tree world. It is also, a landmark of Pacific Northwest humor and a tacit acknowledgement that although we move, and can avoid what this tree does, but, it will live longer and steady itself and its offspring in ways we cannot fathom. Wonder is enough for beings who eat light.

  • Aspen Vectors

    Early spring foliage radiates outward in the late spring sun in Fishlake National Forest. The official tree of Utah, Aspen dominate the arboreal landscape. This grove, located at 9600 feet is neighbor to the Pando, the worlds largest tree covering the area of 106 acres.

  • Succumb

    Branches of a Koa Tree lie encased in a lava flow in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here, the story of a tree that battled fire and survived flows into the time the tree faltered under the weight of the heavy and rapidly crystalizing magma flow.

  • Nurse Tree, Olympic Rainforest

    A nurse tree has taken up life in a downed tree anchoring its roots to gird its growth in the Olympic Rainforest.

Forest Portrait:Maple Vectors

Maple Vectors

A flank of maples leaves in the mid story of an old growth forest beneath Mt Olympus shimmer in the forest void.

Trees are the architects of the sky who build history with water, carbon and light.

  • Another Washington, Aspen and Seral

    Although western Washington state is shaped by one of the largest Temperature Forests in the world, the eastern forests is shaped by more recent dynamics; massive volcanic eruptions, glacier floods and techtonic shifts. Land ideal for pioneeer trees like the Aspen, who share the land in what is called a "Seral" arrangement. Sharing the forest with confiers as they make their ascent as the dominate species.

  • Hidden in Light

    Besides their ability to propagate asexually, creating massive clones of themselves, Aspen Trees feature another quality rarely discussed outside the scientific community; Aspen bark is UV resistant. A wonderful adaptation for trees that can live at high elevations like these. Pictured here, the first snow storm in the Mountains above Pando, the world largest tree. A meditation on the hidden world of trees. A meditation and how they shape their lives in a world of light invisible to us.

  • Bone, Branch and Moss

    A bone aged to moss rests on the broken branches of spruce in the Dune Forest of Washington.

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