Petaluma nature photographer teams with dad for new book
For nature photographer Tracy Rose, a strong photo evokes a feeling, stirs the imagination, or provokes a thought or memory in the viewer. So, when the Petaluma resident decided to publish his first photo book, he turned to a seasoned wordsmith for brief “legends,” or captions, that would support the images — his father.
“My father has always been the guy for me,” Rose said.
Fred Rose, 87, is a retired advertising and marketing communications writer. He lives with his wife, Peggy, on four wooded acres in Grass Valley. As he recalls with a laugh, when his son asked him to write the legends, Fred asked, “What’s a legend?”
But once he understood his son’s vision, he and Peggy got busy.
Because of health issues, Fred has a hard time with the physical act of writing, so Peggy transcribed as he composed out loud. The result of this family affair is “Beyond the View,” a just-published volume of 23 color photos with brief legends on the facing page.
The title was Fred’s idea.
Rather than a typical book of nature photos, with captions that describe where the photo was taken, Tracy and Fred wanted a few words for each photo that suggest a possible way of viewing the image — not to interpret it for the viewer, but rather to arrest the viewing a moment so that the image’s power to evoke reflection and memory has a chance to emerge.
“We wanted to suggest something beyond what you see at first,” Rose said. “Besides what I’m putting into the composition, the most important thing to me is what I feel as I observe.” The goal is to capture something that has a suggestion of meaning, for him and hopefully for others.
“There are great photographs everywhere, with descriptions attached,” Fred said, “but it doesn’t have to stop there. We thought there might be something more we could add to the image — a feeling, a thought.”
For example, for a dramatic photograph of two swans in close motion on the water — are they landing, taking off, fighting or mating? — Fred wrote the following legend.
Often, what is perceived in nature,
a joyful dance or decisive duel, is determined
by the tilt of the viewer’s mind.
The legend suggests not only that we look at the image again, but that we note the feelings that arise from it, asking ourselves to what degree the “tilt” of our consciousness shapes these feelings.
“We tend to perceive what we look for,” Fred said.
Many of the legends allude to memory.
For example, a striking photo of a bull at sunset, a vast bed of clouds behind him, includes this legend.
Some encounters, though brief,
unexpected, and seemingly casual,
embed memories that rise to recall
with curious frequency.
The bull is staring back at the viewer, as if asking, “Who are you?” The legend supports the question by indirectly asking us what images are embedded in our memory that have remained vivid despite the passage of time.
“Today, in my estimation, people try to get connected by more sources of information,” Fred said, “but you’re not learning about yourself. Nature can give us a broader consciousness.”