Vaughn Sills | photographer


True Poems Flee

Photo from True Poems Flee series

I run down to the shore – if running is the right word, as I clumsily juggle my tripod and camera and concern myself with not tripping on a jutting root or turning my ankle in a divot in the bumpy ground – and hope to get there in time to make a picture of that perfect cloud formation. But then, those clouds move to the east and a ray of light appears, and a new scene, a new poem, appears… then flees almost as quickly as it appeared, maybe before I can make the picture. I wait… and keep photographing. Is there one even better moment still to come?

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Places for the Spirit: Traditional African American Gardens of the South

Photo from Gardens series

One early September afternoon I found myself on the porch of Bea Robinson’s house in Athens, Georgia. While my friend Sara Glickman and Bea chatted about their lives, I looked around and became entranced by Bea’s garden. Something came over me – or through me – as I stood in the garden, looking, feeling, sensing the energy or magic or spirit, call it what you will, that surrounded me. On that warm, soft, sunny day I took the first of what has turned into a series of photographs with which I continue to be deeply involved fifteen years later.

Vaughn's book Places for the Spirit: Traditional African American Gardens is now available from Amazon and other bookstores.

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Beyond Words

Photo from Words series

I have chosen objects from nature one by one, found them, dug them, preserved them – a squirrel’s skeleton, poplar saplings that sprout from one long root, broken egg shells lying on the forest floor. I have taken them, or been given them, from the land on Prince Edward Island where my grandparents visited each summer, where I now have a cottage. I chose these things because of their extraordinary beauty – and because they seem to hold the mystery of life and death.

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One Family

Photo from One Family series

While traveling in Georgia nearly twenty-five years ago, I stopped at a small mill worker’s house to photograph two children who were playing in the front yard. Soon their mother, Lois, came out and joined in the picture-making; on that day and the next, I photographed them and one older sister who later arrived; and ever since, I have been photographing this family, including Lois, her husband Joel, their seven children, and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As I returned almost every year, bringing pictures and making more, the Tooles came to accept me as part of their lives, and I came to know much of the family history.

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