In 2010, I had the privilege of spending time in Colorado with a good friend of mine that is also a brilliant photographer. I know no one else that stops the car as frequently to capture a moment. It is quite an experience to travel with someone that knows an area in great detail and proficiency. Seeing as Colorado was our playground, we spent one day photographing in the Rocky Mountains and the next in a 95 degree suburban garage photographing weeds. As we backed out of the driveway on the second day we were on our way to explore amazing vistas, I noticed an odd weed that I had never seen before. These strange plants tied themselves in knots and created quirky spirals. I was completely fascinated, and, to my surprise, I had found one part of Colorado that my host had never explored that was 5 feet from his front door.
After visiting a local hobby shop for supplies, we managed to put together a simple lighting setup while covering the garage refrigerator in black fabric. Between the 95 degree heat and plants that had been yanked out of their natural habitat, we had to work quickly in order for them not to wilt. My enthusiasm for these plants and tolerance for heat was not shared equally, and at some point I found myself ignoring my good friend and host to spend the rest of the afternoon examining these strange specimens.
Naturally, after spending a fair length of time staring at weeds, I wanted to know what they were. On the ride to the airport, we speculated, and I had a conversation with my phone while riding in the passenger seat. I found no answers, succumbed to my guilt, and actually had a conversation with a human. On the plane, I noticed that the bulb on these plants looked conspicuously like a ballet slipper. It was my wife who noticed the range of dance poses while I was focused on only one image. This collection represents a great deal to me, but above all it reminds me of how many beautiful things that I miss while I’m looking for beautiful things. In looking at the images, a viewer might expect to hear a more grandiose story of how these images came to be. In reality, the images were always there, we just had to stop the car.
As for the weeds, it turns out that many of my friends have wild garlic growing in their gardens, and it can be found in a majority of states in the U.S. So much for finding a brave new world.