Great Blue Heron
from Time and Quiet
(I call this fellow "The Assassin.")
Although I think I've made it pretty clear that the Tony King photographs that resonate with me are his simple, classic, black-and-white glimpses of life, it would not be fair to the man and his long and distinguished career to ignore the work that occupied almost the last third of his life. Tony was an environmentalist in the best sense of the word. Not a rabid tree-hugger, but one who believed the good and beautiful things in our world should be appreciated, and as much as possible, preserved.
For fourteen years, beginning in the 1970s, he created a calendar featuring his black and white photographs that was sold throughout New England and beyond. "Making calendars became part of my way of life. Trying to explain in pictures what a New England year is like made me more observant, in a way, more alive than I had been. I greeted each new month with curiosity and was challenged by it to find a way to express its nature with just one image.
"Every chance I got I used to ramble around the countryside. I was never looking for specific subjects but I was liable to photograph anything . . . ordinary places and everyday objects were good enough for me. I photographed what touched me, whatever stirred in me an admiring response."
But slowly, things changed: "I noticed that few places I revisited over the years had been improved in my absence. Fields were planted with buildings, wetlands were turned into parking lots, and beaches were strewn with unsavory debris. I began to worry about earth and water and animals and children, mine and everyone else's.
"Without planning it I stopped roaming the countryside in my happy-go-lucky way ready to photograph anything that charmed me. . . I began photographic studies of the places that had meant most to me in my early life, and I began to work mostly in color."
His emerging passion led ultimately to the publication, in 2001, of his Magnum Opus, the beautifully photographed, designed, and printed Time and Quite, a large format, limited edition book made to the highest standards. (I should also mention that all the photographs were made on film.)
I am very fortunate, I could even say blessed, to have a copy that Tony gave me, signed and inscribed with his warmest wishes.
Male Red-Winged Blackbird
from Time and Quiet
But although Tony's focus and direction changed, his basic philosophy remained the same: "The world is lovely and still marvelous and my view of life is still positive. Everything about nature tells me life wants to go on and I am dazzled by human potential. But we have, all of us have, work to do. That work is to take care of that part of the world we have some personal influence over -- our backyards, our neighborhoods and our work places."
Time and Quiet may be ordered from Time andQuiet Press.
(Photographs copyright Judy and Tony King Foundation, 2020.)
Soli Deo Gloria