This is the latest in our One Photo series, where photographers share their most meaningful photo and the story behind it.
We asked freelance photographer Stacy Bass to share the story behind this photo a gentleman and his dog looking out into his garden in Connecticut.
“I didn’t exactly set out to become a landscape and garden photographer,” says Connecticut-based photographer Stacy Bass. “But this one photo I took told me that I had become one. As a photographer, being asked to choose only one photo that defines or represents you is somewhat akin to a parent being asked who is the favorite child. But if I had to choose, this would be it.”
What is this a photo of? What’s the subject and when and where did you take it?
This is a photo of a gentleman named Chester Burley and his dog looking out over his garden in Greenfield Hill, Connecticut. It was taken around dawn in June 2007 on assignment for Westport Magazine.
Why does this one photo mean a lot to you?
This image means so much to me for several reasons. First, it takes me right back to the experience of shooting that picture. It was a steamy summer morning; the air was heavy and saturated, ethereal and magical. Mr. Burley had greeted me with a cup of tea and there was a Puccini aria being piped into the garden as I I worked. It represented everything I love about dawn and landscapes and the still beauty of first light. This image went on to be the cover of my first book, In the Garden, and I feel it has come to be indelibly linked to me and my work as a landscape photographer. (Stacy’s new book, Gardens at First Light, is also on sale on Amazon).
Why does this photo still move you today?
I think this image still moves me today because it reminds me of what first inspired me in this particular work. It set me down a path that was unexpected, but has ultimately been very satisfying. I love that people still have such a strong reaction about and fascination with this image and (yes, even ask if the subject is single!).
What has this photo taught you about being a photographer?
This photo is a reminder to always consider the human element in every image: what reaction am I seeking? What emotion do I want the images to evoke? What should the viewer feel? I find myself in a way infusing this “person” in all of my garden and landscape images— even when there is nobody in the frame. It’s as if every picture should be evocative of what it would have felt like to be standing just there, wherever “there” is, just as Mr. Burley was that day.
It has also taught me to be patient— no matter what you are shooting— being patient and open to what might unfold before you is a gift that keeps giving.
Stacy Bass has also been a PhotoShelter member since 2008. We asked her to share a few thoughts on what she loves about the platform.