Thursday, August 1, 2013

'That Tree'

Cover of Mark Hirsch's Book

It takes dedication to spend a year documenting anything. Photographing the same, theoretically inanimate thing for 365 days tests the ability to see more than might first be imagined. 

For corporate and advertising photographer Mark Hirsch, the challenge took the form of a huge old bur oak on the edge of a Wisconsin corn field. For years Hirsch passed the oak, affectionately dubbed "That Tree", every day while commuting but made his first photograph of it only after purchasing an iPhone 4S in early 2012. Photographing the oak became a project to which Hirsch eventually committed a dozen months after he posted the initial image and several more on FaceBook and a friend tossed out the idea of shooting and posting a daily iPhone photo. 

During the year he spent shooting That Tree, Hirsch not only had to deal with the vagaries of the seasons but also with light conditions the iPhone's camera couldn't handle. But any problems, Hirsch has intimated in interviews, took second place to what he learned about perseverance, paying close attention, and making meaningful art. Not only was the iPhone camera not to be lightly dismissed but That Tree, it turned out, was not so passive as Hirsch thought; in fact, he has said, it taught him how to be a better photographer. 

The results of Hirsch's project? They're stunning! I'm especially taken with some of the landscape images he created in winter, toward the end of the year-long project.

Hirsch has collected his images in a book That Tree: An iPhone Photo Journal Documenting a Year in the Life of a Lonely Bur Oak (Press Syndication Group, 2013), available in both a signed and unsigned edition (ordering information). Limited-edition prints of Hirsch's work also are available. 

Visit the online galleries for "That Tree". Hirsch has grouped his day-to-day photographs in 12 month-long sections, beginning with the period March 24 - April 23, 2012, and ending with February 24 - March 23, 2013.

Hirsch discusses his inspiration and use of his iPhone camera at The Photo Brigade.

Mark Hirsch on FaceBook and Twitter

Hirsch's project has received a lot of media attention. Here are just three of the more interesting articles about and interviews with Mark Hirsch:

Patrick Traylor, "A Year in the Life of That Tree, A Photo a Day by Mark Hirsch", Denver Post, May 8, 2013

Becky Lettenberger, "A Photographer and His Friend, 'That Tree'", NPR, April 26, 2013

Michael Zajakowski, "Mark Hirsch: A Photographer's Year in the Life of an Oak", Chicago Tribune, March 26, 2013.


Hannah Stephenson said...

So good! I love this project.

Louise Gallagher said...

Oh wow! How beautiful Love it!

S. Etole said...

Those are some incredible photos.

mark hirsch said...

Hello Maureen, Thank you for sharing the story of my incredible though unintended adventure with That Tree. It has been and continues to be a very rewarding project. I am so please you found it worth sharing with those who enjoy your blog. All my best, Mark Hirsch

Lisa said...

I have always been enamoured with trees, so I admired your work. Thank you for the beauty you've shown us through your lens.
Lisa Eis
Fair Lawn, N.J.