Photographer David Benjamin Sherry often takes viewers on journeys through his photographs of emotional landscapes. David’s latest book, "Earth Changes," came to be when Aaron Mörel approached him and asked that he compile a selection of his photography of the American West.
We felt compelled to talk with David about his publication that just released this fall with Mörel Books.
How did the idea of the book "Earth Changes" come across?
I’ve had this Edward Weston book, called “My Camera on Point Lobos” for many years and its one my favorite books in its design and content. This book helped shape my visions of the American West, in some ways it inspired a move and re-located me from NYC to LA two years ago, so as you can imagine I’ve held it close over the years. When Aron Mörel approached me to do a book, I already knew that I wanted to re-imagine my own version of this Weston classic and I had the work to do this. I used the same format of the Weston book but updated the design (and content) and created “Earth Changes."
"I wanted to re-imagine my own version of Edward Weston's classic book."
The photographs inside are a collection of pictures I made over the last two years throughout the American West. I was specifically interested in re-visiting the landscape canon of photographic history to raise awareness about our changing landscape due to climate change. I thought that by re-visiting these famous places and re-imagining them in bright colors all made on film and printed analog in the darkroom, it could bring to the attention that our land is rich and alive yet needs to be re-considered as we are feeling the drastic effects of human caused climate change.
Coincidentally, as a queer person, I felt it necessary and natural to inject a more queer and colorful vision of American Western Photography, as I found there to be a void in the epic yet short and often straight male dominated, photographic history. Furthermore, I wanted to draw a parallel between the end of film-based photography and the changing landscape before our eyes.
Are these all photos of landscapes affected by human activity?
Yes- unfortunately human impact on our natural environment has drastically changed our natural landscapes and continues to do so, some landscapes more than others. The effects are devastating and ecosystems are suffering, the landscapes in the book often memorialize these natural places but also could be used as evidence that change is definitely underway in the environment.
If the title seems neutral, how would you describe the mood of the book?
Well, I don't think the title of the book is neutral – to me it is a universal take on the subject and words, “climate change." As current inhabitants of Earth, we are living during a significant period of ecological change. I would describe the mood of the book as mystical, uplifting, romantic, energizing, thought provoking and melancholic.
Did you design the logo on the cover? It has both a futuristic and vintage vibe to it, and a certain mystery. Tell us more about this imagery.
I re-imagined the logo on the original books cover and I worked with a friend and designer to convey a new version of the logo that was displayed on the Weston book. The original book had a square with the photographer’s initials in it (EW).
We took that square, repeated it 4 times, changed its sizes and outlined the interlocking various rectangles with a spectrum like palette that I work in and re-formatted the squares to mimic the various orientations (horizontals and verticals) of the pictures within the book. The logo became a window for the pages that were inside. As far as futuristic and vintage vibes, I’m interested in the future but also the present as well as the past.
I think the book gives way to all of these directions while retaining a certain mystery that will hopefully engage the viewer and ask them to look closer at the bright pictures and see our rapidly changing environment in a new light. I often use monochromatic color as a vehicle for emotion, so the colorful effects often strike the viewer in sub-conscious ways.