Daylight Books: Bruce Haley: Home Fires

“It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from here.” —Bruce Haley

Home Fires: Volume I, The Past, released last year, explored the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley, where famed war and documentary photographer Bruce Haley spent his childhood. In this brand new Home Fires: Volume II, The Present, images from the western Great Basin transport Haley’s story to the rugged and remote landscape he now inhabits.

Both volumes were shot during the winter months, but this edition describes a fuller seasonal arc, “from the end of the dry season, when the cows arrive from their high desert pasture patches, when the danger of The fire is at its peak and there are new burn scars, all through the deep winter, then into the thaw/thaw period,” shares Bruce.

Taken over a period of seven years, the photographs not only tell the story of the vast geological vistas and playas, ice storms and sagebrush, but also reveal the remnants of human history lingering in abandoned homes, farm equipment and broken fences. From his own pasture, Bruce can see a long stretch of a pioneer wagon trail.

“Geological weather hits you in the face everywhere you look here. Human history, on the other hand, seems loosely rooted, tenuous and sensitive. We build our lives in difficult places and trust fate or faith or a combination of the two, while the cyclical nature dictates fate,” Haley writes in the book’s introduction.

It discusses the element of survival in rural America, encompassing life in the extreme elements, but also the constant search for financial opportunity.

“From skeletal wooden structures to rotting single-wides, from equipment boneyards to shuttered businesses on dusty main streets, the landscape shows the scarred history of lost hopes and dead dreams. Or to cut to the chase: the remains of another broke family that was forced to move in search of work.

His own family faced the same struggles in the 1920s, a theme conceptually shared across the two volumes.

For the first time, Haley has included titles on the opposite pages of the images. Simple and straightforward descriptions of the scene or land formation, he shared that titles help connect him (and by extension viewers) to the place, and also serve as a “nod to [painter] Andrew Wyeth”, who also titled his pieces the same way, and who served as a source of inspiration.

The county where Haley lives spans 4,200 square miles but is home to less than 10,000 people. There is a flashing red traffic light throughout the county. Because of or despite this, the sky and skylines in these photographs appear larger, deeper in tone and resonance, than a muted city skyline. Rimrock and creek beds coexist with ranchers rounding up cattle for market or branding. In this there is an element of trust, a ferocity connecting the land, the history, the people, the animals, the hopes.

About the artist:
Haley’s photographs have appeared in books, magazines and newspapers around the world, as well as in corporate publications and on CD, video and DVD covers; its customers include Time, Life, US News and World Report, The London Sunday Times magazine, Back, Paris Match, GEO, Opening, Squire, Georgia-Pacific and Chevron Corporation. Many magazines and newspapers have featured Haley and her work, including American picture, (French) PHOTO, the new yorker, the New York Times, B&W, UTNE Reader, The Telegraph (UK), Photo District News, WORKS OF ART and ARTS & LIVING. His limited-edition portfolio, titled “13 Million Tons of Cast Iron,” was #1 on Photo-Eye’s best-seller list. In addition to publications, Haley’s exhibition prints have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. Home Fires, Vol I: The Past marks Haley’s second book with Daylight. His first, To separate, published by Daylight in collaboration with Charta, features photographs taken between 1994 and 2002 that reflect the complexity of land and life in the former Soviet bloc.

Bruce Haley: Home Fires – Vol II: The Present
Photographs and text by Bruce Haley
Published by Daylight Books
11 x 12.5 inches / 176 pages / 120 colors
ISBN 9781954119048
List Price: $50.00

About Marcia G. Hussain

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