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Beyond portraiture: The Sculptures of Woods Davy

Stories | May 25th, 2024

I fancy myself an observer of the human condition, which conveniently makes me a damn good photographer. My lens finds stories in the strangest places, but let’s be honest, some tales are tougher to tease out, especially when the subject can’t move or speak.

So, when Bob Denison, my boss, pinged me about a gig, I shrugged it off as just another chance to get paid for indulging my passion. But here’s the kicker: everyone I talked to kept it frustratingly vague. It wasn’t until D-Day that I discovered I wasn’t photographing people—I was photographing a sculpture. And not just any sculpture, but one crafted by the renowned artist Woods Davy.

The man on the rocks

Woods Davy is no ordinary sculptor. His work is a dance of balance and form, often melding natural elements like stones and steel into something both organic and otherworldly. His creations challenge our perceptions of nature and art, blending the two into seamless, stunning pieces.

Woods Davy surrounded by some of his pieces. Courtesy of

I don't understand sculptures, but...

Facing this new challenge, I channeled my inner Ansel Adams, armed with the wisdom from his holy trinity of photography books—The Camera, The Negative, The Print. Still, nerves gnawed at me, so I packed every piece of gear I owned: lenses, bodies, tripods, flags—the whole shebang.

Woods was precise about what he wanted—artists, right? No pressure at all. As we lounged, sipping mojitos with a meticulous splash of passion, we waited for the sun to slink to that perfect South Floridian summer hue. Meanwhile, I crammed a crash course on sculptures, a subject that had always baffled me beyond the likes of classical Greek and Roman statues. Abstract art? Might as well be alien hieroglyphs to me. And Woods’ piece? Peak abstraction.

The mission, per Woods’ exacting directions, was to capture the sculpture as a hero while letting the scenery breathe. To nail this, I shot from a low angle, using landscaping floodlights to give the piece that dramatic, cinematic separation from its backdrop.

El Pico 2012 – Stone, Granite – Private Collection

Hey, thanks for looking.

Now, while this does not look like a wow-inducing photograph, just like many art pieces, I maintain that it is much more impressive seeing it in person. But, since it is in a private collection, one can see it printed and nested amongst its fellow sculptures. To get in some of this action, pick yourself a copy of “Woods Davy, They Are What They Do” by 5 Continents, a monograph that is a comprehensive survey of Davy’s work from 1978 to 2023, with an introduction by Suzanne Muchnic, an essay by Shana Nys Dambrot, comments by the artist, and a conversation with Craig Krull.

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