Nearly every day I loop my camera strap over my head and step out into the afternoon. Jean Feiwel, my extraordinary editor, has followed my forays into the world of photography for a long time. Many of the images used in SAFEKEEPING were taken before Jean and I agreed to use photographs in the book. Because I had no intention of “literally” illustrating the book, the images did not require a one-on-one correlation with the text. Therefore, I could have drawn from my archives of nearly 20,000 images and had more than enough material. The need to walk Radley’s walk, however, sent me out with my camera through wind and rain and fog along the route my narrator traveled. As a result, I had an additional several thousand photographs from the walk through New Hampshire and Vermont in the spring of 2011. Winnowing down that mass of photographic material to the select group included in the book was an enormous project. I considered the subject of each photograph, its emotional tone, its quality, and its accessibility. In the end every image had to pass rigorous tests, technical as well as compositional…each image had to speak to the reader at face level, but it also had to ask a subtle question of the reader…not pulling them out of the story, rather drawing them more deeply inside it. Even after the galleys were printed I was still making changes and substitutions. Even now, if Jean would permit me, I’d make changes. But the book is out of my hands and the images I selected in my final pass are the images that will follow SAFEKEEPING through its life as a book.
“The photography in SAFEKEEPING adds so much to the story…and it is your work. Talk about the process of gathering and selecting.”