Agate is privileged to share the artistry of wildlife and landscape photographer Dominique Braud in this gallery of Minnesota winter scenes, with piano accompaniment composed and performed by Joe Gorka. As we enter a new year in a complicated world, we honor the wild places that sustain us all. [Program runs 2:43 minutes. All rights to images and music reserved.]
Behind the Camera
Dominique Braud is a nature and wildlife photographer specializing in wildlife and landscapes of Minnesota. A native of France, he moved to the United States in 1980. His photography has been published in such publications as National Wildlife, National Geographic World, Birder’s World and Outdoor Photographer, and he has authored over seventy articles about nature and photography in regional, national and international magazines. His book, Minnesota Wildlife Impressions, was published by Farcountry Press in 2008.
“North is where I feel most alive”
Says Dominique: “I don’t know why I feel like I have to walk on egg shells every time I say this, but I absolutely love winter in Minnesota. It’s sort of like declaring that you are a die-hard Vikings fan at a party full of Green Bay Packers: some feelings are best kept to yourself, especially in this state where the love-hate relationship that exists with winter is all too palpable. It is undeniable that the seemingly endless winters in the nation’s icebox can take their physical and psychological toll on the hardiest of residents. So, I have astutely learned to dial down my enthusiasm for winter and have become adept at avoiding comments like “Bummer, winter is almost over” in late March, when everybody’s cup of patience for the white stuff is running over. Best to avoid walking on thin ice.
For a seasoned photographer like myself, however, winter is far from an inconvenience; it is a blank canvas on which pictures that exude serenity, zen-like simplicity and deep emotions can be painted; a white blanket of snow that smothers the landscape to reduce it to its basic essential elements of light, shadow and lines. My winter images reflect the joy of being alone in the wilderness, empathy for the creatures who have to survive in it and the minute details of Nature’s artistry. My favorite wintertime destinations are the seven state parks that line the north shore of Lake Superior, but put me anywhere from Duluth on north to the Arctic Circle and I am like a pig in mud. Quite ironic for a guy who grew up in sunny southwestern France! I am pretty sure that Jack London’s White Fang, Yves Thériault’s Agaguk and other novels of the Great North which fed my imagination as a teenager have a clear hand in this contradiction. North is where I feel most alive. Cold, snow and ice demand my patience and constant vigilance; there is often a steep price to pay for the sloppy, foolhardy or ill-prepared. In the elements, my best friends are my down parka, Sorels, ice cleats, energy bars and a fresh set of camera batteries. Very little else matters.”
Find more of Dominique’s work on his website.
Joe Gorka is a student at the University of WI, Madison, currently focusing on neurobiology and music. He says that winter is a minor key.