These intimate images evoke the exquisite balance of the Alaskan wilderness — and the wonder-filled veneration of its photographic master.
I have not yet had the good fortune to visit Alaska, but I know one thing from friends who have traveled there: It changes you. Alaska is one of those rare and cherished places that gets inside your mind and soul and forever rearranges your way of looking at the world.
I’d grasped this idea of Alaska in my head but never quite understood it in my heart until I chanced upon a wonderful new softcover photography book called “Hoshino’s Alaska.” This elegant, understated, profoundly moving collection of photographs and short essays and remembrances captures the spectrum of the Alaskan wilderness, from breaching whales and verdant forests in the southeast coast, to majestic moose and frosty tundra in the southwest interior, to playful polar bears and frozen white expanses in the Arctic.
The images in the book are illuminating and endearing, and graced with a kind of respect and intimacy that honors both the subjects and the photographer who crafted them. That photographer is Michio Hoshino, and a fellow photographer, Lynn Schooler, eloquently captures the essence and achievement of Hoshino’s art when he writes in the Foreword:
“While many of the photographers I have known seem to pursue full-frame, as-close-as-possible portraits of wildlife as their constant ideal, Michio’s gift was often to place an animal against an immense and powerful background, in such a way as to make the animal seem small, thus instructing us on the animal’s life and environment rather than presenting a demand that we admire him for his daring…. Studied carefully, his photo of a wolf nestled into a copse of dried grass tells us clearly how the demands of that animal’s life require a state of constant awareness, just as his photo of a polar bear rimed in shining frost demonstrates the perfection with which that species has adapted to its environment. More, he consistently managed to present these images in such a way as to awaken our own veneration for nature.”
As Schooler suggests, Hoshino’s photos are like Zen gardens: If you can slow yourself down and really study them, absorb them, they reveal deeper and deeper riches. Poring over these humble, exquisite images, each embodying and imparting a sense of wonder, I long to discover Alaska all the more – but I also feel deeply grateful to have such a sensitive, accomplished and connected artist to show me the way.
[Hoshino's Alaska; photographs and text by Michio Hoshino, copyright by Naoko Hoshino; foreword by Lynn Schooler; introduction by Karen Colligan-Taylor; published by Chronicle Books; softcover, 160 pages; $24.95.]
The following Adventure Collection members offer trips to Alaska: Backroads, Lindblad Expeditions, Natural Habitat Adventures, NOLS, OARS, and Off the Beaten Path. For more on the wide world of Adventure Collection journeys, visit AdventureCollection.com.