Trish Carney Portfolio
by Anne Veh, May 11, 2012
“Remember only this one thing,” said Badger. “The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away when they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. This is why we put these stories in each other’s memories. This is how people care for themselves.” — Crow and Weasel, a fable by Barry Lopez.
Lopez’s story takes place in a mythical time when people and animals still spoke the same language. I share this beautiful passage to describe a thirst we all experience, a hunger for stories—animal stories—and for that sense of connection, with each other and to the natural world.
By sitting in nature, Trish Carney allows the wild to come to her. With a deep reverence for the animals and their way of being, she is able to get quite close and observe with an intimacy that is rare. Her work is not about capturing a great photograph, it’s about listening and learning from our fellow sentient beings.
What amazes Trish is the number of animal stories friends and strangers have shared with her when viewing her work. Recently, she shared a story related by a co-worker. He and his wife were ecstatic on hearing a familiar owl screech. This particular owl has been returning every spring for the past three years, and they were joyous and comforted hearing the well-known call once again. By attuning to nature, we experience a slowing down of time. In that space, we experience magic, wonder, and a wisdom that begs us to remember.
What would a shared language look like? At a wildlife preserve a few weeks ago, the founder, a kind and wise man named Steve, invited a group of us to sit in a large circle. There were about 30 of us. He instructed us to stay quiet, close our eyes, and drop our energy low and direct it out about four feet. As we sat silently with eyes closed, his assistant, Michelle, brought a wild animal into the circle, slowly walking past each one of us (she carried a vulture, an opossum, a porcupine, and a sloth). After she completed the circle twice, Steve asked us to share what we experienced. In many cases, there was a definite connection with each animal—a sense of its temperament, and details such as scale and whether the animal had fur or feathers. It was astonishing!
What Steve and Trish have taught me through their work is to be like a child, open and aware, loving and present. —Anne Veh
Excerpts from an interview with Trish Carney by Anne Veh:
“It’s a continual practice of trying to be accepted by the place as well as by the creature. I’ll let the animal determine how much I get to photograph. I like to just sit, listen, observe. For long stretches of time, I wait.”
“I would like my work to be more directly about conservation issues and I’ve tried taking a more photo-journalistic approach, but I always seem to return to a more lyrical approach to the subject.”
“I find when I am in urban environments I have that ‘city nervousness’. And when I can get outdoors, I lose that nervousness
and I feel more myself.”
“How do we co-exist? How do we see ourselves in relation to our wild neighbors? We need to not see nonhuman life as lesser than us. I always think of my subject as being about wildlife, but what I really want to do is make work about respect and reverence and connection, or the lack thereof.”
“It is not always about coming home with an image. It’s a long-term relationship that I’m trying to cultivate.”