Palladium printing is a historical photographic method that dates back to the late nineteenth century. It requires the hand coating of 100% cotton rag paper with ferric oxalate, then an exposure with a negative in the darkroom under intense ultraviolet light. The print is highly archival and produces an exquisitely warm-toned image. The palladium printing process imbues the subject with a timeless intimacy, making it well suited to photographs of nature and heritage architecture.
This collection aims to capture the Polynesian concept of mana in myriad settings around the world. Each photograph relates to my search for a sense of spiritual connectedness to the land, at times mediated by my own family history and at other times grounded in an appreciation of humanity’s shared heritage. I set out to infuse each piece with a timeless sense of place that would encourage the viewer to contemplate the ways in which they are linked to other human beings and the planet. Through the use of palladium printing, I further reinforce the scenes’ temporal ambiguity. The palladium process gives me a chance to re-experience my connection to these locations and add layers of meaning to them, resulting in a set of warm, reverent photographs that invite the viewer to meditate on the power of place.
These images immediately precede “Depart” in my mind, but not strictly because of the emotions commonly associated with death and dying. I believe that the hard times in life, when darkness most seems to be closing in, are the times when one must exert the most effort in order to move forward. Thus, these photographs impart a palpable feeling of motion and push the viewer to consider the ubiquity of change in life. As in “Ancestral ‘Aina,” the analogy between the natural world and lived human experience is a central theme. The palladium process emphasizes not just the looming darkness, but also draws the viewer’s eye to the distant light in the images, suggesting the persistence of hope in difficult times.
During my travels, I have meditated on a different sort of voyage: the one that the soul makes to the afterlife. Death and the afterlife are perennial artistic subjects, and I wanted to express both the loss and the hope that I see as intrinsic to a person’s departure from the world. These photographs, taken at cemeteries and churches around the world, capture moments of tranquility in images that are disarmingly warm and welcoming. The rich tones of the palladium process invite in the viewer, accentuating my view that death is not something to be feared, but a fact that should enhance the viewer’s appreciation of life.
There is something awe-inspiring about structures that stand the test of time, from the humblest barns to the grandest monuments. Whether withstanding the ravages of war, natural disasters, pollution or urbanization, these priceless sites of shared cultural heritage encourage us to think about what we’re leaving for future generations.
When seen through the lens of a palladium print, the natural world is stripped of most color. However, this does not make the subjects of these photographs any less alive. The lack of color allows us to focus on other aspects of nature: the richness of the sunlight, for instance, or the tranquility of the compositions.