Photo Perspectives: The American Backyard

Photographers from all over the country show us where their backyards lead

Curated by Matt Paul Catalano

We were sitting behind the Boneyard one day, in a sweet little grassy spot between the coffee shop and Gin Beach that we call The Backyard, when Matt Catalano came to us with an interesting idea. Get photographers from all over the country to show us what’s in their backyards. The way a foul line on a baseball field extends way past the outfield wall, into infinity if you think about it, our backyards go way beyond the place where we water the lawn and have barbecues and put the Slip ‘N Slide. There is a big country to explore and photographers Megan Barrett, Travis Chambers, Danny Clinch, John Hook, Tara Israel, Luke Pearsall, Reuben “Babby” Quiñones, and Forest Woodward were kind enough to show us where their backyards went.

John A. Hook III:

“I just happened to look up from the table and noticed some really nice warm light coming in through the winnebago window. Living in Hawaii, you can almost feel like you are stuck in a place lost in time, nothing changes that much.  Simply taking a trip somewhere cold, wearing a sweater, can make you feel like you are exploring a new territory for the first time.”

Danny Clinch:

“My backyard could be anywhere, since I am always carrying a camera, but these images specifically were taken in NJ.“

“This was taken of my cousin’s son playing pop warner in the late ’80s. I always feel that the positive side of youth sports is camaraderie, making friends, teamwork, and finally realizing that sports are not everything, but teamwork and friendship are.”

Forest Woodward:

“To me it represents the dualities of the west—the romanticized version of western ranching coupled with the struggle to earn a living from the land. The ranchers here are also conservationists, working to restore healthy grasslands through the reintroduction of the once nearly extinct American bison.“

Ruben “Babby” Quiñones:

“This is my backyard in San Juan and a very special spot for me, where I won my first surf contest. La Perla is full of color and the surfer, Vanina Walsh, is a pilot from Hawaii. We both share a passion for the ocean as it provides a sense of freedom of expression and opportunity to make a living as a surfer and photographer. I’ve also always enjoyed meeting new people like Vanina from all over the world who are welcome to come here and share our backyard.”

Megan Barrett:

“California poppies create miles of orange and gold, shutting down highways, creating crowds of people so dense you’d think there was another gold rush.”

Luke Pearsall:

“When I was 10 years old my parents gave me a gift that would change my life. It was a national parks passport, a navy blue book with gold lettering, which contained spots for rubber ink stamps found in every national park.

“I am my happiest when my feet are in the red dirt of Bryce Canyon National Park, or watching the sunrise kiss the jagged peaks of Grand Teton National Park. It is a visceral feeling I cannot explain and an emotion I’ve spent my life trying to capture in my work.  I don’t know if I will ever achieve this goal, but I know for certain I’m willing to spend the rest of my life trying, one rubber ink stamp at a time.”

Travis Chambers:

“I captured this moment of the young child and woman both looking out of the window, enjoying the view during a ferry ride to Staten Island, NY. I love subtle moments like this in New York. There is always something to capture.”

Tara Israel:

“This was my backyard because, for a few days, pine mountain remedies was literally (and legally) growing hemp behind the vansion, my little camper van that serves as my home on wheels for part of the year. Eastern Kentucky reminds me of my hometown in many ways. Small towns that hold cultural significance beyond county lines. I took this photo when i was there recently camping at a friend’s place at the top of Pine Mountain. Nathan introduced himself to me when we were trying to find the best place to park my van. A few nights before my arrival a bear had opened another camper like a can of sardines.”