Some places are too big to be meaningfully photographed. The Amazon is one of those places, though my colleague Loren McIntire, through determined and resourceful travel, did his best to cover its vastness in the last decades of the 20th century.
I took another approach. For fifteen intermittent weeks I photographed the rain forest by traveling a small network of rivers that meander away from the base of the Andes in Peru. By concentrating work in a single setting I believed the whole of Amazonia could be evoked.
Early in the experience I encountered Torben Nissen, a Danish photographer. We struck up a strong friendship based on a mutual interest in documenting the fast disappearing wildlife of the region.
But we had different styles. Torben used long lenses; I used short ones. He believed action and behavior made the most compelling images. I emphasized settings, context and layered compositions. We talked about this and gradually our conversations brought us closer together in philosophy and style. My images grew more energetic; his more structured.
I’m grateful for those conversations. One of the appeals of photography is that you work alone. But working in artistic isolation has its limits and my work in Amazonia was brightened and made better by our friendship and the talks it was built on.