WINNER: The theme of this month’s Photo Challenge is Spring. The winning entry is “Weeping Cherry Tree” by New Jersey writer and photographer Laury A. Egan.
Egan grew up around art and creating art. Her mother was a painter; Therefore, as a child, Egan was always surrounded by visual arts. She began writing at a young age – first poetry and short stories, then a novel. However, when it came time to choose college, she chose visual arts over creative writing. “Why that? I still don’t know,” she says, “but it made my career path shift to fine art and I started photography as part of my graphic design class.”
Yet writing and photography have always been “intertwined in interesting ways” in Egan’s work. “I think as a photographer you’re more attuned to the small details of your surroundings,” she says. “As a result, often this ‘flitting[s] in verbal descriptions” – in a poem or setting used in one of her novels.
This kind of creative dynamic between the two art forms also characterizes Egan’s photo Weeping Cherry Tree – the winning entry of this month’s photo competition – and the poem it inspired.
In the fresh spring air, weeping cherry trees fall pink on a green lake; Wind caresses the surface, folding the landscape into squares of jeweled mosaic, reflective magic.
Weighted with blooms, 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 a stray petal light as flute music, or a trout breaking the skin of the water, reckless with joy.
I listen to a distant Whippoorwill call and wish I was a bird so I could answer.
© 2009 Laury A Egan, Snow, shadow, a stranger (FootHills Verlag)
The story behind the cherry tree picture 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 “essentially vernal, cheerful and bright,” she says. So she decided to take some pictures and then submit them to this month’s photo contest. “Spring is a time of great beauty,” she adds. “Nonetheless, there is something beautiful and also a bit sad about a weeping cherry tree with its cascading structure.”
This ‘mood mix’ is also found 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 it evokes.
And yet perhaps a more familiar mood associated with spring awakens in Morley in Spring. Photo shows Egan’s basset hound meticulously sniffing the daffodils, inhaling the pungent smell of spring and reminding everyone what this season is all about.
Laury A. Egan also teaches fine art photography. She keeps challenging herself to ask herself what made her take a particular shot. “If something [makes you] Take this picture, ask yourself why,” she repeats. She also encourages her students to take as many shots as they like “to get it out.” [their] System” and then “refine” what it was that prevented them from “making” this picture.
“As far as writing goes,” she adds, “the most important thing is to sit in your chair and do it.” She advises those who think they “have a novel inside them” to always say “now.” is a good time to start writing this novel.
“You know, I work seven days a week and stuff; this gets me a lot done. You have to be really dedicated and patient, and you should go over your work again [many, many times].” She edits her novels about forty times. She also reads her novels out loud, which is always a good way to pick up on any changes that need to be made.
“And the other thing is also to get other opinions,” she adds. “[Ask] Beta readers or educated friends, or [hire] a development editor. If you have a publisher, they often do too.” It’s important to get other people’s opinions, learn the Chicago Manual of Style, learn where to put commas, and care and dedication.
“And that goes for photography too,” she adds, “because you have to really know the structure of a composition for it to work really well, and to do that you have to understand the elements of that composition. ”
Laury A. Egan is the author of page turners like The godless hour, turning point, the swimmer, and many other books. Autographed copies of Egan’s books are also available from River Road Books in Fair Haven, NJ.
To learn more about Laury A. Egan’s photographs and books—including The Wicked Hour, Turnabout and The Swimmer – visit her online at lauryaegan.com. Her books are also available on Amazon. Autographed copies are available from River Road Books in Fair Haven, NJ – riverroadbooks.net.
Other notable entries:
David MeadowNJ 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 a rebirth and new life by showing the nesting puffins waiting to hatch their young. The puffins nested on the side of this cliff, waiting to hatch their young. Spring is a time of lush and beautiful colors and their bright orange hue against the rich green is also very striking.
Rob Silvagnifrom NJ: “The coming of spring, of course, reminds me of…flowers.”
The images show how Mother Nature comes alive again during the South American spring. The mix of colorful flowers in the foreground, a pristine river at the foot of the Andes (on the Chilean side) and the high, snow-capped mountains in the background make for breathtaking, unforgettable landscapes.
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.