“From time to time, LPM will bring to you profiles of highly acclaimed photographers. Starting this month, Laura Weeks takes us through the photographic life of Gary Freeburg, a specialist in the Alaskan wilderness”
At the height of the Vietnam War, Gary Freeburg sits in a Buddhist rock garden on military leave to Japan in 1971. He visits the garden every day; each time struck by the way the sand shifts, while the stones remain stationary.
“As I sat there, I didn’t think about the war; I didn’t think about what was going on around me: this garden absorbed so much of my attention”. It was at this moment that Gary realised, “in desolation, there is beauty”.
Gary carries this idea with him today, as he photographs volcanic regions in Alaska, particularly the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a 44-square mile landscape of volcanic ash and pumice buried one thousand feet deep. From the formation of this new earth surface, Gary sees balance, a site of shapes, shadows, textures; a “giant geological garden of contemplation”, he says.
On 6th June, the centenary of the largest eruption in the 20th century, Gary is preparing for yet another trip to the vast Alaskan scenery, where he will promote his book, “The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes: Revisiting the Alaskan Sublime”.
Gary discovered the region when National Park superintendent Ernie Suazo in Sitka, Alaska, looked at Gary’s images of the state’s tidal regions and noticed remarkable similarities between…