Tree: A New Vision Of The American Forest By James Balog (Analysis)

James Balog is most well known for his photography of glaciers and animals but in this publication, he turns his attention to trees.

However, this isn’t a straightforward book on botany or simply a collection of interesting trees. Instead, as we’d expect from Balog if you’re familiar with his work at all, he tells a story with each and every tree.

What really sets this book apart from the many other collections of trees is how Balog approached his subjects. Just as he took a unique approach to animals in Anima, Balog approaches trees in a way that I have never seen before.

To start with, many of the shots are taken with a massive white backdrop placed behind the tree in order to isolate the subject. In others, he takes several pictures while positioned at the same level as the tree.

That may sound simple enough but when you consider that Balog is photographing trees that are hundreds of feet tall you begin to see the challenge that this approach presents. In one example, Balog lowered himself slowly while taking hundreds of photographs across hundreds of feet and stitched these photos together to create something unique.

To be clear, these photos aren’t for everyone but it doesn’t offer a unique take on a common subject and an approach that you should expect from Balog.