Long seen as symbolic of other realms, shadows are more than the mere physics of light. They suggest something else and have an aura of magic and mystery. They accompany everyone yet go largely unnoticed. In these haunting depictions sometimes the shadow seems more real than the subject and leads us into archetypes, mythology, and the subconscious. For years I’ve been chasing these photon phantoms by photographing my shadow while exploring wild, numinous places. In my haunting of ancient ruins, caves, canyons, and rock art sites I spend time where surreal shadows are cast upon the rocks and interposed with ancient symbols and wild landscapes. These spectral portraits seem bright with the essence and power of such places. The Ancient Ones often marked the rock with handprints and other images to record their presence—I stamp it with my shadow. Painting with light on the walls of symbolic caves, I superimpose my ephemeral impressions over inscrutable old ones. The photographic process is an unavoidable metaphor for the subject of catching shadows, and I am mindful of the notion held by many native cultures that a photograph somehow captures one’s soul or spirit.
One’s shadow can be mysterious in numinous places where there is a tangible ancient presence. It is said some shamans could penetrate rock, passing through cracks as portals to the spirit-world within. My shadow knocks on these invisible doors where ancient vision-seekers held vigils.
These images can be somber or playful; I think of them as photogeoglyphs (light-earth-symbols) and present them here with original prose or excerpts from other sources. Perhaps these depictions serve as a visual mantra or haiku, reminding me that this day is real, this body is real, these rocks are real, this shadow is real—it should be enough. Reality is transcendent enough for the careful observer.