I just saw this video by Cottage Life about the oldest living maple tree in the world, the Comfort Maple. It was this tree I used as a location in two pictures which placed in the National Association of Professional Child Photographers International Image Competition. I remember seeing it in the field as I drove past on a visit to my family, and immediately knew I had to photograph a family there. One of pictures I took that night ended up in New York Times Square when I won the 2014 Photographer of the Year.
I knew the tree had a long history and was aware of some of its original owners, including Laura Secord, a Canadian heroine of the war of 1812. It was really the why I wanted to photograph a multigenerational family under it. I was looking for the meaning of family, and I felt the family would tell the story of the tree, and the tree would tell the story of the family, and all the roots and branches which make up both their histories. The tree is by far the biggest maple tree I have ever seen, and you can almost feel all the families that have had picnics beneath its canopies, the kids who have swung on the rope that is still there, and the history it has seen, including the birth of a nation. And yes it is held together by wires and cement, but its still an incredibly beautiful tree with a lot more stories to tell.
There is magic and mystery and stories all around us and I am awed that this tree, once owned by someone who helped define a nation, continues to provide inspiration and ultimately ended up wrapping its branches around another family, and ended up in New York Times Square., adding to the tree’s rich and varied history.
The images I took that night.
Take a look at the video – let me know what you think!