Michael Tummings photographs hunters in a style reminiscent of classic European painting. The photographs show landscapes that look untouched by time. The forests are lush green and photographed with a crispness that suggests the deeply earthy smell of moist soil, moss, and pine needles. Beyond the dense tree line, the images open up onto unobstructed fields that reach all the way to the horizon. Yet even as nature is shown in all its grandeur, the real subject matter is the presence of hunters as they engage with nature and seek their prey. It is the human experience of this century-old tradition that gives nature its importance here. Tummings infuses his work with the culture that surrounds hunting. Even when the hunters are absent, it is their view of nature that dominates the images.
The project Hidden has taken Tummings to many countries, including Germany, England, Norway, Finland, Romania, Scotland, Ireland, and Spain. He has been able to photograph hunters from a wide range of backgrounds, including some of the oldest hunting families in Europe. The resulting images capture this male-dominated culture with finesse, conveying a multi-layered understanding of the tradition of hunting, its participants, and the role hunting plays in the conservation of the forests.
The act of killing, which lies at the heart of hunting, is ever present but rarely explicitly shown. Nevertheless, the hunters are never unarmed, and they are always on the lookout. Their love for nature is implied, but this passion is a complicated one that appreciates beauty while hoping to make a perfect kill, for it is the successful shot that will mark the success of the hunter’s outing. By photographing the many moments before and after the shots ring, Tummings allows the viewer access to this sheltered world.
The Discoveries at the Meeting Place exhibition included work by ten artists who participated in the 2010 portfolio reviews at FotoFest. Each artist was selected by a different reviewer. Participating artists were Lamia Maria Abillama, Damion Berger, Erika Dietes, Natan Dvir, Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola, Bill McCullough, Monika Merva, Nancy Newberry, Jhinryung Oh, and Michael Tummings. See details at Fotofest.org