Coming South for the first time in the late spring I had a head full of images of what this place might be like. However much research is done on the approach to a new life, books read, movies examined, Instagram plundered, there is always the moment on arrival when a place suddenly swims into focus and presents as a whole for the first time.
I was expecting humid but I hadn’t accounted for the richness of the air and it’s assault on the uninitiated. I had seen the poetry of marsh landscape but here was the low-tide revelation of primordial mud punctuated by oyster shells and the white of egret wings. I was intrigued by the trails of moss draped ghoulishly outside my bedroom window, blown to smithereens when Irma came to town. Everything was close to my idea of it and at the same time completely different, the proverbial stranger in a strange land.
The geography of the place still confuses and fascinates; a riddle of waterways awash with islands of ghost trees, palm trees, wading birds and beaches spotted with whelk eggs and sand dollars. There has been a riot of new food and fauna and flora, from the rich produce of local markets, to the surprise of each season’s flowers. There is still the small shock on glimpsing prehistoric gators just beyond our back yard.
The complexity of local history sings with both pains and glories and somehow nature and land and memory are wrapped up together to make ‘this place’ - the Lowcountry.
Making photographs is a way of coming to grips with the unfamiliar and has always seemed to me a good excuse for a creative adventure. I wanted to try and capture something of the duality I see in my new world and many of the images come partnered with an opposite or double or contain an alternative narrative to the first take. The double-take of a newcomer perhaps. In other images the process serves to show duality by way of reflecting, magnifying or using color to re-imagine and transform.
The first impressions I had of Beaufort and it’s surrounding low lands have given way to something more nuanced. As the first year draws to a close the scent of familiarity comes in with the spring tide but I know I’ve barely scratched the surface. There’s a lifetime of exploration to be had here.