on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

In Trees I Trust

Arjun Nambiar

Arjun Nambiar

I am a surgeon by profession, but have always loved playing with cameras since I was a child. I only took up photography in any earnest around 2010 when I got my first DSLR. The advent of digital photography certainly made a huge difference, but I am pleased to say that I have now also found my way back to film – both 35mm and medium format (now that the bank of Dad does not have to foot the bill!) I would call myself self-taught and amateur, although the nuances behind both those terms are not lost on me.


Walking into a woodland, or even a copse of trees has always brought a sense of peace and calm. More often than not, I am also overcome by an overwhelming desire to place a palm on bare bark and just breathe for a few moments. It is primal and sensory. Words do not begin to describe it. Life on earth is complex, species are transient, and for us humans it is difficult to fully comprehend geological and astronomical time-scales when we have only been around for but a proverbial ‘blink of an eye’. But if there are two things that are essential to life on this planet, and most certainly essential to human life, it is water and trees. Take these two things away, and we are left with sheer desolation. No atmosphere as we know it, and definitely no atmosphere - that thing landscape photographers crave!

So when it came to a subject for my first (proper) project, I had little hesitation. Some people may say that images of trees are becoming cliché. I say that shows an unfortunate lack of insight. Would anyone say that portraits of people have become cliché? Undoubtedly you can capture a bad portrait, an unflattering portrait, an uninteresting portrait, a poorly exposed, oversaturated, shoddily cropped, ill-considered portrait. But to call portraits cliché? Absurd. To me, images of trees, like portraits, defy cliché-ism. And like portraits, to capture a good one you must take the time to know your subject. A good tree image carries some essence of the subject and something of yourself too. I find it is often easier to establish this connection with trees than with the wider landscape because trees are the quintessential givers of nature. Open your mind, and your heart, and be assured they will give you something. Or if your mind is in a mess and your heart too unsettled, just stand around them and breathe, for that is their gift too.

These images are the beginnings of a project entitled “In trees I trust”. I look forward to adding to it in the coming months.

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