I’m currently reading Guy Tal’s book of essays on art, creativity, nature, photography, and life, “More than a Rock.” Guy comes to the conclusion that expressing his own emotions through photography is reason enough to be a photographer. “I would not be a photographer today if photography were not the only medium I know of that allows me to create in the time and manner that fit the experiences I’m after and that inspire my work.”
Guy’s essays are thought-provoking. What moves us when we hear a piece of music, when we read a poem, when we see a photograph or a piece of art? I believe it usually has to do with stored memories—things that remind us of experiences we’ve had, people we’ve known, things we’ve seen, heard or read—even smelled. Studies consistently show that our sense of smell actually has the strongest link to our sense of both mood and memory.
I took the photos above and below last summer at an annual music event called “Symphony in the Flint Hills.” Every summer the Kansas City Symphony sets up an orchestra shell in the Flint Hills—the largest intact area of tall grass prairie that remains in North America—and puts on a concert. I’ve now attended it once, and look forward to attending many more times in the years to come. The performance I witnessed last summer was both breathtaking and moving. It brought many in the audience (including yours truly) to tears. At the end of the concert everyone in the audience was asked to stand and sing the Kansas state song, “Home on the Range.” I don’t think any photo in the world could capture that feeling, and for me it’s all tied up in recollections through the years related to Kansas and the American midwestern and western prairies. But these photos carry with them—for me anyway—a serenity that springs from the memory of all that tall, waving grass, the smell of fresh prairie air, and the sounds of the Kansas City Symphony flowing out across those gently rolling hills.