Lost in the Woods

Until recently, the works of wilderness photographer Terry Walker were unknown to the art world, but not unrecognized. A selection of his early work was singled out by Ansel Adams for publication in Ansel Adams Polaroid Land Photography, printed in 1978 by New York Graphic Society: Boston. Several of Walker’s other photographs are part of the permanent Polaroid Collection.

The image selected by Adams—that of a gazebo mirrored in water—is a haunting one. Not because the subject was shrouded in mist. But because it was one of the last times Walker’s work appeared in public more than twenty years ago.

He vanished—into the woods.

Over that time, he became a reclusive photographer with a concern for the vanishing wilderness, but without the resources to turn film into prints. Consequently, his intimate studies of rocks, trees and flora in their natural settings have barely seen the light of day. Or the illumination of a gallery wall.

Captured predominantly on 35mm film, his vivid images of decaying leaves and rotting stumps languished in the obscurity of archives for more than two decades like a collection of vintage automobiles stored away in a barn. All preserved in perfect original condition.

In color, composition and lighting, Walker has remained a purist who finds “the perfection of nature in its imperfections.”

All images were shot using available sunlight exclusively. All cropping and exposures were done in the camera, a prehistoric Nikon. Development of the final print is faithful to the original transparency. These are his creative signatures.

Now in his sixties, Terry Walker has come out of the woods with his work. Arriving late in fine art circles has always been fashionable.