It all started in 1979. There I was, eleven years old, a Kodak Instamatic 127 in my hands, watching the bottom of a crater. There were strange, lound noises down there, together with some patches of melting lava. Those were the first summer holidays with a camera of my own, and I wanted to make the most of it. Each summer my parents went travelling somewhere around the Mediteranean. They always took me with them and that year we were in Sicily. It is on that very day, on the slopes of Mount Etna, admiring the primitive but magical show nature was offering us, that I started to realize what I was really interested in: to understand - at least try to- how all this stuff worked. Not only volcanoes, but nature at large.

People helped me in that. There was my primary school teacher. Whenever he was fed up teaching us some obscure french grammar rule, he took the whole class out to the woods, just behind the school buildings. He taught us about trees, flowers, had us look for animal tracks, helped us understand what was happening in that environment, so close to us and yet so extraordinary. And of course ther were my parents. Through all the trips we took each summer, they taught me how to be curious. Curious of what lay in front of me, of all the new things I discovered. New faces, new ways of living, of speaking, of writing. New plants, trees, flowers, stones, animals or whatever. They taught me to accept difference, not only to accept it but understand, respect, appreciate it. I owe them a lot.


We went a long way, my Kodak instamatic and I. From Venice to London, through the Greek islands or the Alps, the Pyrenees or even the woods at the back of our house. Yet one day I decided to buy a "proper" camera. I got interested in potraits, still life, black and white development and enlargement. Often, I gave priority to the form, forgetting about the content. It is at university that I started to consider the content. Studying american literature, I discovered H. D. Thoreau. To go to the thick of nature, to isolate , immerse oneself in it; to observe, and understand what is happening, how all is organized. Then document it. This attitude suited me perfectly.

With this model in mind, at my modest level, I am still learning my craft. I may study complete geographical units -as with the Bardenas Reales de Navarra-, more intimate habitat types -as with the beech forests of the Basque country-, or even specific things such as the plants and flowers in the dunes of the Atlantic coast. But the approach is always the same. I'll walk the area all through the year, eyes wide open, always seeking to better understand it, getting as much information about it as possible. I am not after spectacular landscapes. I am not here to impress. When I do take a large view of a particular landscape, it is to better decompose it later. It is like playing with a puzzle. I isolate all its parts and then try to show how they fit together, how their sum happens to produce natural beauty and grandeur. What interests me are the bits and pieces of the natural harmony. If I decide to take a picture, I keep two things in mind: first of all I want it to be pedagogical. I want to show how an element, integrated in a specific environment, works, how it is organized. I want to show how it evolves with time, how it resists the attacks of time and/or mankind. Then comes the aesthetical dimension. I try not to be present in my pictures. I just let nature come to the fore, looking for an angle that best reveals what attracted me in the first place. I keep it as simple as possible.

My aim is to document unique natural environments. All my projects are personal. I work at them in complete independance. There are simple ideas behind my work. But they all come down to a very obvious one: respect Nature. If I am ever able to convey the deep respect I have for Nature and convince just one person of the necessity to cherish it, protect it, then this work is not in vain.

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jerome.borda@waysofnature.com
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