Trees mean life. They purify our air, produce oxygen, protect animals and insects, they provide us with food and raw material. In some parts of the world they’re worshipped like gods, in others they’re cut down and destroyed ruthlessly. Beth Moon, a photographer from San Francisco, has spent her last 14 years finding the oldest trees on Earth and taking pictures of them. Her journeys have led her around the world, to the most isolated spots on our planet. The trees she’s captured on her lens are true miracles. Some of them have grown in deserted areas for thousands of years, with hardly any water, while they still find ways to grow there.
“I’m always fascinated by how trees can adapt to the harshest conditions and subsist. Some trees become hollow when they’re old in order to survive. In the midst of the trunk the tree grows an aerial root which continues to grow from the inside to the outside.” Beth Moon in an interview with National Geographic
On her website Beth Moon writes that she finds the trees by doing extensive research in history books, botanical books or newspaper articles and online, but also by hearing stories of friends, fellow travelers and locals. The magic inhabiting these ancient trees can be perceived thanks to Beth Moon’s photographs. We can hardly imagine the magical feeling of standing in front of a tree that is thousands of years old.
With her photo project Beth Moon also makes people think about how endangered trees and our nature are in general today. The Baobabs, for instance, count among the most endangered tree species in our world today and are massively threatened with extinction.
“Standing as the earth’s largest and oldest living monuments, I believe these symbolic trees will take on a greater significance, especially at a time when our focus is directed at finding better ways to live with the environment, celebrating the wonders of nature that have survived throughout the centuries […] I cannot imagine a better way to commemorate the lives of the world’s most dramatic trees, many which are in danger of destruction, than by exhibiting their portraits,” Beth Moon writes on her website.
Her photo series “Portraits of Time” is really impressive. Looking at the black and white photographs has both fascinated and saddened me. One thing’s for sure though: Thanks to Beth Moon’s pictures I’ve been pondering on the issue of environmental protection and the death of trees intensively for the past few days and I’m sure I’m not the only one.