The Hollywood Ravens.
I first became aware of the extraordinariness of ravens visiting a village of America’s original inhabitants on the island of Haida Gwaii, seventy miles off the coast of British Columbia, in the late nineties. It was there that an elder explained to me two families inhabited the island, the Eagles and the Ravens, both of which were richly represented in the island’s legends, art, and totems. Eagles had to marry ravens and vice-versa, so your parents would be one of each, and you would pick or be picked by your bird totem growing up. My first thought was why wouldn’t everyone want to be an eagle? The very next day my lesson in the extraordinariness of ravens began, and I have been observing them ever since.
Almost a decade later, in the week after my father's death, he came to me in a dream and said when I'd see the sun glinting off the Ravens' wings he'd be with me. He never knew about my allegiance to the Raven clan, but he was a pilot who flew blacked out bombers on night raids during the war. I’ve long been convinced spirits can ‘ride’ birds as surfers ride waves, so what better way for a lover of flight to show his presence.
My feelings for the raven are diametrically opposed to the Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase’s, and his renowned book The Ravens, published in 1986. Proclaimed to be one of the most important books in the history of photography, it was made in the aftermath of his divorce and its profoundly dark and ominous mood is interpreted as an allegory for the sadness of postwar life in Japan. Like so much of humanity, he framed the raven as a symbol of hopelessness, despair and darkness.
It is a wholly unjust representation of the raven, take the time to look you’ll see they are joyous, playful and constantly socializing sky dancers. Their mischievous airmanship is second to none, and watching them tease, torment and outmaneuver the big hawks in the Hollywood Hills is a delight. I challenge you to open your eyes and look beyond their color, because when you do you will see that the raven is the dolphin of the sky.
Photographed in the Hollywood Hills between December 2018 - January 2019, as my divorce was unfolding.