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What is a picture?

What is a picture?

I remember getting a Polaroid camera when I was a young boy and taking a picture of my giant, stub-tailed cat, Lynx, sitting on our front porch. As the picture slid out of the camera, colors taking shape, the image appearing right before me, Lynx had already decided he didn't want to model further and had moved off. I stared at the photo in my hands, showing him - albeit in low resolution - where he'd been moments earlier, and it hit me that with a picture I was able to freeze a moment in time. I could preserve an image and in a sense transcend the past.

That first cartridge of Polaroid film lasted just minutes as I photographed day lilies in our yard, the wooden seat on a rope swing hanging from a giant, sugar maple, and a couple landscapes of distant, Northern Vermont mountains. I kept these photos in a wooden box reserved for some of my favorite things - the toe of a fisher cat left in a neighbor's trap, a large cent from the 1800s, a piece of smooth, blue sea glass, and a skeleton-style key I'd unearthed while digging for worms to use as fish bait.

On a recent trip from Montana, where I live now, back to Vermont, I opened that box for the first time in over 30 years. I looked at the photos and instantly remembered the way Lynx would practically eviscerate anyone dangling chicken skin in front of him, how the paint peeled from our kitchen as my mother and I boiled sap from the maple tree into syrup on the cook stove, how awful a job it was to separate day lily bulbs each fall, and a particular rainy, September evening on one of the mountains I'd photographed when I'd shot my first partridge five or six years after taking the picture. The two-dimensional images in my hands transformed into vivid memories of places I hadn't thought of and things I hadn't seen in many years. 

From where I sat on the floor of the room I slept in for most of the first 20 years of my life looking at those old pictures, I could see my new, Nikon D810 and backpack full of lenses. My first thought wasn't how much technology has changed but rather how one thing I hope to do with my pictures - preserve a moment in time - remains the same.

But I don't want to record history. I'll leave that to photojournalists. I want to record my own, often very personal take, on a single, split second of time. I want to provide, as accurately as I can, my individual take of a tiny portion of this world. I want to show you how I see the things around us all, in particular snippets of the wilder places I've always been drawn to.

Anyone who takes a picture has the opportunity to become captain of their entire universe. Between the edges of the field of view through a lens, we have a chance to show the world our imagination, interpretation of life, passion for beauty, and record not only what appeared before us but exactly how we saw it.

For me, that's what a picture should do - it should give the world  a glimpse into not only what's out there for us all to see but also reveal a little about the soul of the photographer. Through subject matter and angle, composition and play of light, we present not only what we take pictures of but a little bit about who we are. Whether the photographer is a boy with a Polaroid or a professional on location for National Geographic, the opportunity to show the world something unique about ourselves is the same. We can provide a tangible record of our own imaginations, limited only by the view through a lens.

I hope you'll enjoy the places we go here, and I hope, too, that I'm able to offer images that represent how I and I alone see this wonderful world. I hope that there's a lot of Jake Mosher in a lot of these pictures. 


1 comment

  • Phillis Mosher

    Received our order on Tuesday and had to say that, as lovely as these shots are on line, they can’t compare to the actual photos. The clarity is truly amazing!

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