It’s been important to me as a photographer that, in addition to my landscape/nature photography, I have a personal documentary project ongoing. It brings a kind of focus and narrative process to my work that shooting pretty sunsets doesn’t always have.
My previous project, the Owens Lake Project, concluded for the most part (with some ongoing low-level work) in April 2016. That project began in early 2010, and has been immensely rewarding–environmental issues are very important to me, and this project allowed me to do a little good in that regard. It saw three separate exhibits, all of which raised proceeds for related environmental charities. My documenting burrowing owls at the lake got the attention of California Fish & Wildlife, who sent a biologist to confirm they were nesting and officially marked the lake as a known habitat for this species of special concern.
As I began wrapping up work on OLP, my mind turned to new ideas–it was time to decide on a new documentary project. I’d considered doing a documentary on how wine is made, from grape to bottle, and I kept coming back to that every time I sat down to brainstorm new project ideas. I’m fascinated by the winemaking process, something that’s only increased the more I get to know small-production winemakers. Unlike my Owens Lake Project, which was ostensibly a photo-only documentary, the emphasis in this documentary will be equally placed between photography and writing. It’s a marvelous story to tell, especially in the relationship between the grape-grower and the land. You’ve probably seen the concept of “terroir” discussed endlessly if you’ve done any reading at all about wine–I hope to show you just what that involves, on every level.
I knew immediately where I wanted to place the project, so I sent off an email to Jason Haas at Tablas Creek in Paso Robles, asking if they’d be willing to let me photograph their wine-growing year in-depth for a documentary project. He graciously accepted, and I am deeply grateful for his (and everyone else at Tablas’s) time and support. I am so excited to tell the story of the life of wine, and in particular how that life is realized at Tablas Creek Winery.