Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Gift that Keeps Giving

My husband's birthday has finally passed, so I can now talk about the amazing gifts I gave for Christmas (and his birthday).

Every year, my friend Mona Dougherty and I go up to Ashland, Oregon, to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Our first trips were in high school, with the Drama Club.  When I returned to the US from living in England, we decided to continue the tradition.  We see a play.  We eat far too many (or maybe not enough) fish tacos at Agave.  We talk.

And we buy photographs.

We first visited Dan Elster's booth at the artists and crafts fair along Lithia Creek three years ago.  His images are so startling, you can't help but stop.  A barn owl, sitting on a fence post, its right wing spread out to dry.  A hummingbird taking a nip from a purple flower.  A raven, standing ragged and alone on a beach.

Elster photographs nature in nature.  None of his shots are staged.  None of the animals are in captivity.  He has spent hours, waiting for a family of foxes to come out of what he thinks is their hiding place.  (A little like writing, right?  Sitting, waiting for the right image to come and conquer the blank page.  Only I'm probably warmer and more comfortable.)

Every year, for the past three years, we have bought photographs.  In 2010, I had just signed with my agent.  Mona told Dan, "Next year, we'll come back after Katy's book has sold.  And she'll buy more."  So I did.  I bought large format photos of a peregrine falcon and a coyote for my husband.  I bought smaller photographs for each of the YA Muses,  choosing each image carefully for its recipient.  I have a series of ravens near my desk -- one for each year we've visited Ashland.

I wish I could post a sample of Dan's work here, but that would be copyright infringement, and I would never do that to him.  So you'll just have to go to the portfolio page on his website.  You won't regret it.

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