Tom Blagden Captures a Sense of Place at GMF

by Tom Blagden

Returning to live full-time in the Northwest Corner after four decades in South Carolina felt like an embrace from all that was wonderful about my childhood here rambling around Great Mountain Forest. It represented this hidden, mysterious kingdom that tantalized our imaginations but was never quite attainable due to its impressive geographic scope.

Now, after a lifetime in conservation photography, I’m thrilled to go back to my roots, but with a different eye and skill set--and an enriched habitat with bear, bobcat, deer and moose.

Nature photography is a powerful and emotional medium. Working in conservation allowed me to use photography to evoke a sense of place, which in turn assigns a higher value to that place.

The more finite the area, the better, for that intimacy fosters creativity. The goal is ultimately to attempt to know it so well that “one wears the landscape like clothing”, as the writer Barry Lopez states.

Great Mountain Forest is such a place, worthy of our physical, emotional and spiritual investment.

Personally, maybe I’m trying to recreate my youth, but in the process I’m discovering more deeply what’s self-sustaining and what’s most important in these trying times.

My objective is simple but not easy: to convey through photographs GMF’s hidden spirit- the essence of its habitat diversity, its seasonal moods, its elusive wildlife--and by sharing those images generate a deeper pride of place and a landscape worthy of our support.