For many years, photographer Beth Moon has tried to document the biggest, oldest and rarest of the bunch. Using this criteria as her mission, it led her on a journey around the world. Crossing devastated mountainsides and protected lands, she found these giants and photographed them in majestic portraits. The results do not speak to their age, but the duality of their existence ( powerful and vulnerable ) to the environmental elements and human intervention.
The artist created many series that spin around the world’s rarest trees. In the first, Ancient Trees, she photographed the baobabs, sequoias and other species in black and white. The intense tonality and contrast make them seem from another planet, which is amplified in her project named Island of the Dragon’s Blood. It registers the dragon’s blood trees on the island of Socotra, one of the “few places left on earth so remote and untouched by time.”
For the series Diamond Nights, Moon revisited some of the trees across Africa and photographed them against a backdrop of glittering stars. She needed help from a guide and she marked the spot with a collection of rocks, to be sure she was in the right place.
“For me personally, photographing trees marked a return to spending more time outdoors. I wanted to share the excitement and enthusiasm I felt by visiting these trees with others. After photographing one of England’s largest oaks, I read that a storm had caused a lot of damage to the tree, causing a major limb to crash into the hollow center. After visiting the 3rd largest baobab of South Africa I received an email with pictures showing the total collapse of the tree just a few months later. It was hard to ignore that these strong and resilient old trees were also very vulnerable. Incidences like these made me more determined to continue this work”.
The anticipation may be palpable, mostly when it is combined with an active imagination. Many of those places are so special, that it was worth to wait for travelling. The journey to Yemen, for example, served to add to the exhilaration when she could finally visit it.