Tag: trees and sky


A Tribute to Art Director Henry Wolf

Whenever people ask who is the greatest influence on my graphic thinking without hesitation I reply Henry Wolf. The image above featured on the invitation to  ‘Trees and Sky‘, an exhibition of photographs by Michael Eldridge and I in 2010.

Born on May 23, 1925 in Austria he fled his country of birth with his parents to avoid the persecution of Jews in Hitler’s Germany.

After a period of military service, with American forces, Wolf became art director of Esquire in 1952. Later he worked for Harpers Bazaar, Show, and the advertising agency McCann Erickson.

Wolf’s images all share a surreal style. They benefit from being made to today’s computer enhanced technology. Today, though, I have no doubt Wolf’s studio would be equipped with the latest digital equipment.

I produced this image, somewhat, in Wolf’s style. It was used as the background to the opening invitation to the Trees and Sky Exhibition hosted at Netsel Marina Gallery in 2010.

In 1971 Henry Wolf Productions, his studio devoted to photography, film and design was launched.  In a speech titled “What’s Wrong With Magazines”, (reproduced in Print magazine in 1965), he insisted, “A magazine should not only reflect a trend; it should help start it.” Today, no doubt, he would say the same for material prepared for tablets and other web based graphic devices.

Wolf died on February 14, 2005.

Wolf was a master of what he called Visual Thinking, which he defined as ‘methods for making images memorable’. He identifies seventeen of these in his book. I used two of them here. Can you deduce what they are?


Reflections on the ‘Trees and Sky Exhibition’, Marmaris 28th May ~ 10th June, 2010.

Some time in February 2010, before we thought of creating our Trees and Sky Exhibition, I asked Michael Eldridge if he thought a photographic image might have the ability to heal?

I was thinking of how, so I am informed, the traditional shamanic doctor-priests of Tibet would sometimes prescribe mandalas that were prepared to heal people of their afflictions.

In a troubled age of self-worship, acquisition, and horror, which often presses photography into its service, Michael and I attempted to assemble a collection of ‘honest’ images that convey the basic beauty and simplicity of life.

I hoped that some of these may have an ability to heal.

There is no doubt in my mind that whilst each image in ‘Trees and Sky’ can stand alone the collection benefits from coming from both of us.

Children came here in groups and we helped them to make photographs and see in new ways.

People who once made photographs using film love our exhibition. It reconnects them to a world prior to digital editing software. All of our images have benefited, somewhat, from digital enhancement, but nothing was attempted that could not previously have been achieved using chemical processes.

Painters remark on the framing of the images. They like our use of colour, tone and perspective. For them our photographs are not about photography but about capturing the essence of the scene, just as they attempt with brush or pallet knife.

People who only know digital photography are more critical. The images lack a surreal quality, they claim. Hungry for more pizazz they fail to examine the photographs as new information and allow them to do their work. Instead they attempt to understand them as a tableaux of digital techniques. Of course this can only lead to disappointment because they fail to relate to the images because they have deconstructed them in an attempt to fit them into what can be achieved technically.

For Michael and I life is already a fabulous dream. It doesn’t require digital enhancement. It is sufficient simply as it is and our photographs bear witness to our experiences. No hurry, no pressure, eating when hungry, sleeping when tired. That’s all!

I’ve no doubt that some people have started to heal as a result of looking at our pictures. Many have immersed themselves within them before talking of a family illness or some other trauma with which an image enabled them to connect.

Others, unfortunately, live in a deep trance in which they are identified with all the ballyhoo of a high pressure, fashionista, consumer lifestyle. It will take more than one exhibition to awaken them.

The pictures, so simple in their subject matter and technique, subtly point to archetypes we all can recognise if we give ourselves the time to disengage from the frenetic pace of today’s cyber-lifestyle and once again appreciate the obvious.


Children’s Photography Workshops.

I’ve been running some children’s photography workshops in conjunction with TEMA, which is The Turkish Foundation For Combating Soil Erosion, and is dedicated to preserving the Country’s woodland.

Classes from local schools attend. First they visit the gallery and look at the large images that Michael and I made near his home in Italy, and mine here in Turkey.

Then we talk about them.

The children are quick to pick up that the pictures are different from the ones their parents take because the pictures in their family albums are mainly of people.

They like the images in the gallery which they think of as ‘nature photographs’.

Later we conduct some simple perception experiments by focussing on our forefinger and noting that the background has become fuzzy. Some children even report that the background seems to move further away, which is an accurate description of their perception because our eyes focus in a different way to cameras.

The real task starts when the children make a simple viewfinder with their hands and fingers and begin to find subjects they may wish to photograph.

Toward the end of the workshop I help them to select a subject and we take a picture of it with my camera.

The photograph is then printed on a sheet of high quality digital photographic paper using archival quality inks. It has a wide border so all the class can sign their print.

Here are some examples of the images made during the workshops.


Here are three of the images we made at the ‘Trees and Sky’ Children’s Workshops.


When The Guards Like It You Know It’s As Good As It Gets!

In June 2007 I visited Istanbul Modern to see an exhibition of photographs by Andreas Gursky. These super-large digital collages were a great success here in Turkey.

How do I know?

Quite simply because I noted that the security guards at the gallery were carefully examining each one and talking together about what they saw.

Believe me a security guard is unlikely to have a degree in fine art. On the other hand those guarding galleries have probably seen everything from large nudes to abstract daubs.

When they start to relate to work I know it to be good.

Imagine my delight then when Mücahit Kazancıoğlu one of the guards at Netsel Marina paid us some visits and enthused about our work.

“I always used to carry my camera with me”, he said. “Now I will begin to carry it again.”

“Who knows maybe one day I’ll be a fine-art photographer too?”


Some Thoughts On Mining Techniques In Dereozu Turkey

Whilst it’s possible to photograph anything and make it beautiful there’s very little that’s beautiful about the way trees were brutalised at Dereozu. They haven’t been cut down, were crushed with heavy machinery.”

Exploratory Manganese Workings Dereozu, Turkey.

An Exploratory Manganese Working, Dereözü, Turkey.

I said as much on Marmaris, Park FM 100.5 radio during an interview about a forthcoming exhibition of photographs which features the Dereözü woodlands, as well as images from the Me Marche region of Italy by my fellow photographer Michael Eldridge.

You can hear the full interview here. Some parts are in Turkish but the story is pretty clear, no matter which language you speak.

Stephen and Irem Bray discuss 'Trees and Sky' with Necdet Demiray of Marmaris Park FM

Stephen and Irem Bray discuss ‘Trees and Sky’ with Necdet Demiray of Marmaris Park FM



Publicity For ‘Trees And Sky’ Builds

Slowly news of ‘Trees and Sky’ is drip-feeding into the Turkish, and International Press. Suddenly the photographers find the tables turned and the lenses are focussed upon them.

It’s an amazing turn of events for the two men who eschew publicity in favour of walking in the hills and dales of their chosen habitats.

Michael John Eldridge both paints, and runs creativity courses as well as taking photographs. He lives in the Le Marche region of Italy and it was his images that initially inspired Stephen  Bray to create ‘Trees and Sky’.

Bray has led two parallel careers, both as a psychotherapist as well as a second career in publishing.

Trees and Sky is open to public view at Netsel Gallery Marmaris from 29th May until 10th June. More information is available on this website and also at Facebook.com/TreesandSky.meagaclarsayfa



Why I Committed To ‘Trees and Sky’

I came to live on a beach near Marmaris after a busy full-time career spent helping others. I was once a social worker and then a psychotherapist. After more than thirty years in the field it was pretty obvious that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way our world is going, and it seemed equally obvious that there was very little I could do to remedy it.

Nevertheless I decided to make a start.

It was clear that helping individuals, or even groups within my profession would not make that much difference. Besides I was getting ‘stale’ and needed new challenges.

Two things seemed to me to be imperative. Firstly, to give my baby daughter the very best start I could in life. After all she will, hopefully, be around long after I’m gone and with the right ideals and mind-set may achieve more than I can. Secondly, since politicians and scientists seem to be failing us, whatever I offer must come from the inside outwards, from the heart if you like, rather than being engineered, or even planned.

An exhibition, of course, does need planning and coordination, but I’m not writing about that kind of detail when thinking about this body of photographic work.

At first I simply put my house in order, literally for the dwelling in which I live with my family had to be rebuilt. Then, seemingly, I did nothing. But during this unplanned doing nothingness I came to take photographs of my friends, the terrain, our garden, and whatever else took my fancy.

I’ve always been a photographer. I used the family Box Ensign long before I was given my first camera at the age of eight. I struggled to make prints at home and within the school camera club. Eventually I signed up for a photography course given by Michael Eldridge, with whom I share this exhibition.

Later my work expanded. In a parallel career in publishing I learned how to take pictures to illustrate stories, and for commercial purposes.

These photographs though are different. They are simply reflections that I found when walking in my back yard. Nothing is contrived about them. Where I’ve used techniques to tone, or emphasise areas of an image it has simply been in the photographic tradition of rendering on paper the image I saw in my mind.

In Tibet, I am told, when someone is sick a traditional doctor, frequently a shamanic priest, may be called and s/he will prescribe a course of meditation that involves gazing into a Mandala.

I believe pictures have a similar ability to heal, not in a prescriptive kind of way as the result of a Feng Shui consultation, although I’m sure my photographs could be used to great advantage in this manner. Rather, when they are properly framed, and respected, they have the ability to focus your mind back into the land of your ancestors. A land largely unpolluted and unspoilt.

It is only through such a focus that our world can be healed and made whole once again.


Free Postcards, At The Trees And Sky Exhibition, Marmaris.

Trees and Sky starts with an Exhibition in Marmaris, Turkey commencing on 28th May, and continuing until June 10th. There is to be a blazing hot party for the private showing on 28th, when Michael Eldridge, the former Director of Postgraduate Studies in Photography at Bournemouth College of Art will be available to answer questions about his work.

Early visitors to the show, from 29th May, will be given a limited edition folio of postcards, while stocks last. These feature works from both Eldridge and Stephen Bray.

They are perfect for thanking the hostess following a dinner party, or for writing a note of condolence, or affection to a loved one. But they are real post cards and we want you to use them, rather than leave them to gather dust in a drawer.



The Trees and Sky Exhibition

Trees and Sky is not simply an exhibition but marks the start of an on-going project aimed to help people reconnect with the elemental aspects of life, which for many are obscured by the pressures of everyday life.


The exhibition images are a number of large prints featuring the Sibillini Mountains of Le Marche, Italy, and the rugged hills that are to be found on the Lorima Peninsular, Turkey.

Michael Eldridge and I met 35 years ago in a college in England where Michael taught photography, but they lost touch after the class ended.

I went on to pursue a dual career as both columnist and photographer for a number of publications, as a side-string to his main career as a psychotherapist. Since coming to live in Turkey in 2000 I taught a generation of Turkish professionals Family Therapy and continue to play a role in the field.

Michael left his post as Director of Post Graduate Studies in Photography at the prestigious Bournemouth College of Art in order to work with Sue Mann (ex Art Director of Vogue) in her company ‘Synektics’ a London based media company, U.K. During this period he worked with many famous photographers including Lord Snowdon, the former husband of Princess Margaret. He met the American landscape photographer Ansel Adams, whilst teaching in California as a Fulbright Scholar.

Some of my images appeared in ‘Cahoots’, a regional magazine about alternative lifestyles published in the North of England, and also in ‘The County Forum’, a Dorset based publication. I also worked in the U.K with the advertising photographer Shaun Cullen, and portraitist Nigel Port. His work is finding its way into a number of private collections.

Michael and I have been taking photographs since we were boys and together have put over 100 man years into the study and application of the medium. They share a remarkable kindred-like relationship that enables them to take up their ability to work and banter even after prolonged absences of contact.

Remarkably Michael, at an age when most people would be firmly retired, has just launched a second career for himself as a Creativity Coach, which enables him to continue to teach young people ways to enhance their lives and careers.

Over the years they have taken part in over 20 Exhibitions in Europe and North America but hitherto have never shown their work together.

We took the opportunity to launch ‘Trees and Sky’ in Marmaris when Özgur Uğan, of Netsel Marina, Marmaris, suggested that Netsel Gallery would be a perfect venue. Michael was keen to bring his work to Turkey, having visited the country in his youth.

Trees and Sky is opening to private view on 28th May at Netsel Gallery, Marmaris and will be open to the public from 29th May until 10th June.2010.


The Remarkable Story of ‘Trees and Sky’

Who would have thought that a friendship might endure for thirty-five years without those chums meeting, or hearing, of each other at all?

And how strange that each, in our own unique ways have trodden a similar paths.

Michael Eldridge is an accomplished artist, both on canvas, for like many good photographers he paints, and also as a highly attuned lens-man. Now living in the mystical Sibillini Mountains of Le Marche, Italy, he was an art teacher in Dorset, U.K. when I first encountered him.

I have been making images for half a lifetime using the skills first imparted to me by Michael long ago.

Although people rarely appear in their images both Michael and I share an enthusiasm for others. He is a driving force within the ‘Tiger Eagles Coaching Group’, and teaches Creativity Workshops, both in Italy and other countries.

I spent years teaching generations of psychotherapists, including doctors and psychologists, both in the U.K. and Turkey, and continue to provide support and supervision for many health care professionals.

There are three elements to each image Michael and I produced for our exhibition. There is the sky, which changes but like any personality yet remains the same essential entity. Then there are the trees, growing daily and, like all living things, subject to finite lives that witness both virtue and hardship.

The third element is you, the viewer. We invite you to make what you will of the images in this exhibition.

Stephen Jeremy Maxwell Bray and Michael John Eldridge

StephenBray and Michael Eldridge