One afternoon during my daughter’s violin lesson, I noticed a photography book left on the coffee table. As she launched into another rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, I flipped through the pages of Okanagan Orchards.
With apologies to my daughter, I became completely absorbed by the imagery. Okanagan Orchards is a delightful collection by Summerland photographer Jeremy Hiebert. The images are alternatively artful and playful, taken from many different perspectives — one is an extreme close up of a cherry leaf, the next accentuates the lines and patterns created by rows of trees. Taken as a whole, the pictures inspire the viewer to see our familiar landscape with fresh eyes and to perhaps appreciate what is no longer there.
“I started taking orchard photos well before the recent growth of vineyards,” said Hiebert. “I didn’t set out to document the transition, but when the orchards around our yard started getting chopped, I took photos of that process too.”
The collection isn’t simply a nostalgic longing for the past.
“Orchards are beautiful and have a rich history in the valley, and I think it’s important to maintain sources of local food,” said Hiebert. “On the other hand, if farmers can’t make a living growing one thing, we can’t really blame them for switching crops.”
Hiebert sells his book in small quantities at special events, but mostly created Okanagan Orchards to give away to friends. “I’ve shared my photos in different ways, but self-publishing these books has been the most fun so far,” he said. “There’s something comfortable and tangible about holding a book in your hand.”
Hiebert is working on getting his books into local libraries. For now, visit his website jeremyhiebert.com to see the collections online. There you will find photos from other photography collections: Looking in Ice and A Closer Look at the Trout Creek Ecological Reserve.
If you happen to be looking for an Okanagan photography book that is more readily available, Laurie Carter and Bruce Kemp have just released a collection called Gifts of the Okanagan. This glossy coffee table book contains everything from action to nature photos and is accompanied by write-ups about a wide variety of Okanagan attractions.
Carter will be hosting a book signing at Hooked on Books in Penticton today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Heather Allen is a writer and reader who lives in Penticton.