It’s always the unexpected that makes for the best experiences and images with landscape photography. One such experience occurred this past Friday evening. Good friends of mine here in the North Dallas area of Frisco, Joel and Julie, invited me to come photograph a hidden away patch of Texas prairie that had not yet been developed into a subdivision. It was land that bordered the farm property they both were renting for raising Arabians, chickens and just having a welcome retreat for me to escape to. But even here they were already making plans to buy farm/ranch acres of their own, several miles to the north near the Oklahoma border. Sprawl was coming.
We hopped on the ATV’s and headed over to where Julie wanted to show me an incredible display of spring wildflowers. Through a face-load of pollen we came upon on a scene that I had always imagined how a North Texas prairie should be – an unbroken field of wildflowers (in this case Indian Blanket) with a horizon line not ruined by power lines and roofs. It was there and just as the setting sun was breaking through rain clouds I jumped off the ATV and began composing my captures.
The bad news is that just on the other side of this field trees were already being taken out and the land surveyed for a new road, and subsequently new subdivisions. I live in one of those subdivisions just a few miles away.
The building-out and growth north of Dallas has not let-up since the 1980’s. Frisco is in the top five of the fastest growing communities in the U.S. Thousands of new residents are pouring in as more and more employers realize the benefits of favorable tax incentives in Texas. It’s all very good for the local economy but the nature photographer in me sees the downfall. There is very little in the way of set aside green space. There is nothing that even comes close to the Five Rivers MetroParks I had access to back in Dayton, Ohio. The situation presents a bit of a paradox for me. One the hand I can’t complain about the quality of the Frisco public school system. I have daughters in 6th and 8th grade here in Frisco and I have to admit, the quality is at par or even surpasses what I’ve experienced in the past with private schools.
But I can’t help but miss all those beautiful hills and woodlands back home in Ohio. It’s where I built my reputation as one of the top pro nature and landscape shooters for that area. It’s a big reason why I am returning to Ohio next month. The decision did not come easy. I don’t exactly enjoy being torn in several different directions. There was some tempting reasons for returning to South Carolina as well. Ultimately I have to be true to myself and my art. That truth is back in Ohio.
Rapid economic development and growth can be mostly good, however, I won’t be so quick to be as harsh on Ohio in the future. There is a quality of life issue, an ease of living, where closeness with nature plays a bigger role. There’s the essence of home that’s rooted in a familiar landscape and a rhythm and balance to distinct seasons. Texas is Texas. Ohio is Ohio and Ohio is home. I need to be there and my daughters need for me to be that touchstone to their Ohio roots. I need for me to be doing what I do best in the place I know best.
The Dayton Ohio area is also where I worked hard to establish myself as both a commercial and portrait photographer. Corporate clients, editorial clients, high school seniors, workshops. It was all just starting to hit stride when I picked-up and moved in early 2011. I will regain that momentum. I have to. What’s also interesting to note is that most of my portrait customers on Hilton Head were Ohio referrals ! I had a good thing going and now I fully appreciate it. And I very, very much appreciate all those beautiful metro and state parks and nature preserves.