This is a sneak preview of my book project “Swan” together with the phantastic author and dear friend Barbara Bullock-Wilson. It is my greatest heart project and I am so happy and grateful about this wonderful cooperation!
For the latest information on this project see this news post.
Below an excerpt of Barbara’s newsletter about our book project:
… The creation of this book is a true-life fairy tale all its own. It started with a group photography exhibition organized by Rfotofolio founders Connie and Jerry Rosenthal and hosted by the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California. The show featured the work of 54 artists, including a print by each of my parents and one by an Austrian image-maker by the name of Nicola Hackl-Haslinger who rather impulsively decided to travel all the way to Carmel to participate in the opening weekend festivities.
The first event of the weekend took place on Friday, April 13, 2018. Friday the 13th days have often been marked by auspicious events throughout my life and this one was no exception. That evening, at the request of the Rosenthals, I gave a presentation on Bullock photography for a small gathering of out-of-town exhibitors. Nicola was among them, and, immediately upon meeting, we recognized each other as kindred souls.
Three days later, Nicola, along with Connie and Jerry and another exhibitor who stayed on after the weekend events, joined me for dinner and a lively conversation around the creative process and our individual pursuits.
As part of the discussion, I was moved to share a story I had written about an encounter I had with a wild swan during the time my late husband Gene and I lived on Cape Cod. Shortly after her return to Austria, Nicola asked if I would be interested in making a book of Swan with her as the illustrator. “Swan is always on my mind, every day,” she wrote.
She referred to the idea as her “heart project” and I could feel how deeply she appreciated the spirit of story. Although I had always imagined drawings rather than photographs accompanying the story, the idea of collaborating with her was enormously enticing. I responded with an enthusiastic, “OK! Let’s see what we can do together.” I sent her a copy of my original draft and we were on our way.
As I continued to refine my text, Nicola immersed herself in Swan. She wrote, “I read your wonderful story again and again…I love it so much! I know I have to photograph a very special swan…but where shall I find him?”
One day, very like the day I met Swan, Nicola drove to a lake near her home in Gramastetten. She sat on a wooden bench, thinking and looking at the glittering water. Suddenly she noticed a white spot in the distance. Walking toward it, she wondered whether she would find what she had been seeking.
As she recounted, “it WAS a swan. He was sitting in the grass, obviously enjoying the warming sunrays. I sat down nearby and talked to him. He looked at me and then he got up and took a place a little bit closer to me. We sat together for about an hour. The next day I decided to visit him again. I found him sleeping in another place. I wished him a good morning and sat nearby. This time I took my camera with me. While taking pictures, I was so quiet yet excited at the same time. I felt the magic – such an inner and deep connection to this wonderful bird. After half an hour, he stood up, stretched his wings and started cleaning himself…it was awesome…the sunlight…the feathers…swan gleaming…. After some time, he went down into the water…. I took some more pictures…. I felt deeply grateful and so blessed.”
When Nicola shared her images with me, all my doubts about photographic illustrations vanished. Across time and vast distances, together with another very special bird, she succeeded in seeing straight into my heart and through my memories to visually express the essence of my experience I had with my Cape Cod Swan.
Although we´ve met in person only once, Nicola has become a dear friend and cherished colleague. We collaborate for hours at a time by phone and FaceTime and our work on the book is almost complete. Soon, we´ll be focusing on the task of interesting a publisher to produce it. Later, if we are successful, seeking museums and galleries to host exhibitions and reading will follow…
© Barbara Bullock-Wilson