My art is about experiencing nature, not just observing it

“Nature” is such an abstract concept it can be hard to grasp on a personal level. We can often feel isolated from it, as if merely observers. But when I take an individual leaf and hold it in my hand, nature becomes tangible and real. No longer separate, I become aware of our connection and relationship. I create my art to experience the natural world on this personal and more human scale; and to illustrate that we are not outside of nature, but an intimate part of it.

I create abstract, dream-like photographs out of the simple and overlooked parts of nature I discover around my home in Northern New Jersey. Whenever I walk through my neighborhood or local parks, I habitually collect the delicate fragments of nature I find in my path — the leaves, sticks, flowers, or seeds that have broken and fallen to the ground, forgotten and ignored. Back in my studio, I spend days, or even weeks, carefully exploring the unique character and personality of each leaf or seed. It is a slow, careful process of perception, evaluation, and experimentation. By working with abstraction, texture, and form, I create photographs that reveal the complexity buried within in the simplest parts of nature. My photographs help the viewer realize that we are not just observers of nature, but active participants in it.

the stages of my creative process

inspiration

Most of my inspiration comes while walking through my neighborhood. My favorite time is right after a storm has blown through, scattering leaves and seeds everywhere. I aways have my eyes open for the overlooked details of nature -- fallen and wind-swept leaves, pine cones that have begun to decay, or flowers pushing through the cracks in the sidewalk.


discovery

As I walk, I'll stop and pick up any leaves, sticks and seeds that catch my eye. I carefully examine each fragile piece of nature, holding it to the light and looking for its hidden character or personality. Most get dropped back to the ground, but once and a while, one will reveal something unique. I save these, and bring them home to my studio.


Daniel Sroka at work in his studio

exploration

My studio is filled with leaves, sticks, bark, and seeds, strewn over tables and stashed into boxes! I carefully explore each one with my camera. Sometimes the perfect photograph almost leaps out of the camera. But most of the time it is a long, slow journey, where I create hundreds of photographs that experiment with light, focus, and compositon.


creation

I am searching for that one photograph that is the perfect expression of the leaf's personality, that spark I first noticed on my walk. When I find it, I then continue to work with that photograph, spending days or weeks gently coaxing it into the final work of art. I use no special digital effects in my artwork — my photographs capture what I composed through the lens of the camera.