To Capture a Shadow: “I initiated this body of work in response to personal loss. In silence and solitude, I began photographing the trees around me, their beauty, a balm for my sorrow. Trees captured my interest for their individuality, their fortitude, their gifts of fruit and flowers. I spend time listening to the wind, watching the changing light, and minding the flying birds.
John Muir said,
A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.
In the studio, out of frustration and intermittent waves of raw grief, I started scratching the negatives and prints with sandpaper, rubbing the surfaces as both an act of destruction and a passionate attempt to expunge my deepest emotions. Ironically, the damage I inflicted went beyond temperamental catharsis—it transformed into illumination.
These images are printed in platinum/palladium—a 19th century technique where the emulsion is absorbed into the fiber of the paper during the printing process, creating deeper, richer tones. Platinum/palladium prints are known for their beauty, archival stability and unique impressions. The trees in my images, their grandeur, their uncertain survival, combined with my commitment to my work, will guide my journey to capture a shadow.”
Carla Shapiro has been a photographer for over 30 years and is currently a photography instructor at the Pratt Institute (New York City) and Pace University (New York City). She has exhibited widely in a number of solo and group exhibitions, including at the Catskill Mountain Foundation (Hunter, NY); Freddie’s (Brooklyn, NY); The Center for Photography at Woodstock; The Print Center (Philadelphia); and Pace University. Her work is included in a number of permanent collections, including The Center for Photography at Woodstock, the Susan Block Collection, The New York Public Library, and The Art Institute of Chicago, amongst others. Shapiro has been the recipient of a number of awards and residencies, most recently a residency with Isle Royal National Park in 2016.