Honoring Eliot

General Thoughts
Spring Hillside No.3 - Blue Ridge Parkway, NC — © jjraia

Spring Hillside No.3 – Blue Ridge Parkway, NC — © jjraia

One of the strongest influences in my photography, although I didn’t know it early on, was Eliot Porter. It was his photography which inspired me to travel to so many of the places contained within his books and to see the beauty, awe and intricacies held within the seemingly commonplace slices of nature. His work was generally not the grand landscape of Ansel Adams, but the more intimate interplay of the subjects within the frame, whether the location was the forests of the eastern mountain ranges, or the deserts of the southwest. Each image seemed to have such a dynamic range and balance of textures and colors, as well as an illustration of the subject’s relationships to the surroundings that kept me mesmerized for hours as I poured through his books. Although he was a contemporary of Adams and began in black and white, he moved on to color during its infancy, and it is there that he made his mark.

Spring Hillside No.1 - Blue Ridge Parkway, NC — © jjraia

Spring Hillside No.1 – Blue Ridge Parkway, NC — © jjraia

You could also say, that his style did lend itself to the area of the country in which I found myself when I began my own photographic journey. New Jersey is not an iconic destination for photographers searching for fodder to put on film. But with diligence, I managed to eek out a bit of a niche by exploring much of that state and trying to capture something that showed its own unique beauty far from the images of the industrial wasteland so many envision when the “Garden State” is mentioned. Now that I call North Carolina my home, I am closer to the mountainous areas that Eliot Porter spent so much time photographing. I have made a few trips along the Blue Ridge Parkway recently and have been amazed by the world to be found along this inspiring roadway so thoughtfully created by visionaries from the early part of the last century. At some point on this most recent spring trip, I had the deep sense of feeling like Eliot Porter may have felt as he traveled throughout the area, and as I searched for my own images, I found myself drawn more and more toward the same type of scenes I remembered from his books.

Serviceberry in Spring Bud - Blue Ridge Parkway, NC — © jj raia

Serviceberry in Spring Bud – Blue Ridge Parkway, NC — © jj raia

About a year ago, I had a photograph (above) in a juried exhibition and was able to overhear the two judges talking about my image. It was taken along the Blue Ridge Parkway on a previous spring trip and they unknowingly paid me a great compliment when the two of them agreed that it was very “Eliot Porteresque”. Even though Eliot Porter passed away almost 25 years ago, I still look through his books often for inspiration.

Spring Hillside No.4 - Blue Ridge Parkway, NC — © jjraia

Spring Hillside No.4 – Blue Ridge Parkway, NC — © jjraia

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