“I have hope that we as a culture can learn to honor the sacred in nature,” he adds. “That’s a tough sell in Florida. I don’t just want people to see what I’ve seen; I want them to feel a bit of what I’ve felt out there in the wild heart of Florida and to be a bit more mindful of our collective impact on this special place we call home.”
Moran takes very seriously his obligation to show in his photographs the disappearing Florida while neither being morbid nor avoiding the reality of the situation. It’s a balancing act, for sure, but one he’s happy to engage in. He loves this place and he’s steadfastly committed.
Says Moran, “This connection with the land, it reminds me of a saying that I heard once: To be rooted is perhaps the most deeply felt and least understood need of the human soul. And in my case, at least there’s no question where I’m rooted. This is very much my home.”
River Of Dreams
Never one to miss an opportunity to “throw lots of tools at a project,” photographer John Moran was excited to photograph the Ichetucknee River one warm evening last spring. More than a simple landscape, Moran wanted to create an image that paid special homage to the disappearing river that inspired him to photograph Florida’s natural world in the first place. He wanted to make something particularly dramatic, “a visual love letter” to the river of his dreams.
“I’ve found few places in Florida that have inspired me like the Ichetucknee,” Moran writes. “But my days of bliss and beauty on the Ichetucknee have become an exercise in painful avoidance. I have adapted by composing most of my recent pictures on the river with an eye to eliminating the algae and the sludge that reminds me of the problems of the world beyond the boundary of my favorite state park.”
In an effort to create an image more akin to the river of Moran’s memory, the photographer made several trips to the Mill Pond Spring where water roils and flows into the burgeoning river. After several visits, he envisioned a particularly profound photograph—one that required a little more testing and a lot more gear.
“I had lights—strobes, plus a Q-Beam spotlight—in and on and over and under the water,” he explains, plus a remote-controlled “blinky device,” an LED-pulsing firefly attractant. “How much adding this rig actually helped lure the fireflies closer to the camera is anybody’s guess, but it sure was fun throwing a lot of tools at this project.”
The resulting image is pure John Moran—beautiful, powerful, technical—and a little bit painful in light of its uncertain future.