Nov/Dec 2014Outtakes by Tom Poland, photos by Robert Clark
Imagine 2,000 evocative images, generated from numerous road trips along miles and miles of South Carolina highways and back roads. Mix in half-a-lifetime's worth of friendship and creative collaboration, and you start to get some inkling of what goes into the making of a book like Reflections of South Carolina, Volume 2.
When Robert Clark and I first met at South Carolina Wildlife magazine, back in the early '80s, we had no idea we'd eventually team up to do a whole series of books about South Carolina. You could say we were both "outsiders." I'm from Georgia and Robert is from North Carolina, but we've both come to treasure the beauty of our adopted home state. As managing editor, I was mostly assigning feature stories to other writers, but writing my own stories was really all I wanted to do. Knowing of my desire to become a full-time freelancer, Robert said to me one day, "Before you leave, let's drive into the country and look for a subject we both like. We'll do a story on it." We found our story out on U.S. Highway 378, and the resulting article "Tenant Homes: A Testament to Hard Times," (July-August '86) caught the eye of the folks at USC Press.
South Carolina, The Natural Heritage, a book about the state's pristine habitats resulted, and, though we didn't know it then, we'd just embarked on a twenty-eight-year odyssey that would lead to four books, the latest being our best, Reflections of South Carolina, Volume 2.
Why the best? Since the publication of the original Reflections in 1999, we've grown as artists and accumulated new material. Though we worked three years on the book, the reality is, we've been working on it all our lives.
We each have favorite subjects, but providence has favorites too. One time, taking the long way back to Columbia after getting up early to photograph Badwell Cemetery in McCormick County, we drove across a high bridge over Steven's Creek.
"Turn around. I see flowers," Robert shouted. Below, in a sweeping bend of the creek, rocky shoals spider lilies tossed their regal heads about. We had to stop, and climbed a ridge in order to descend a steep bluff down to the creek bank. As I took reference shots, explosions sounded and smoke rolled across the creek. A U.S. Forest Service prescribed burn was underway. Up on the bluff, orange and yellow flames leaped through crackling pine tops, cutting off our escape route.
"Robert, the woods are on fire," I said, a little nervously.
"Smoke gives the photography character," he said calmly, and it did. But as good as those images were, they ended up as outtakes, because the original Reflections had also featured rocky shoals spider lilies. (We escaped the fire by the way.)
Of the 2,000-plus photographs taken for Reflections 2, just 250 made it into the book. This feature takes a look at some that didn't quite make the final cut. That doesn't mean they're subpar, far from it! Here, then, are the outtakes, along with a bit of each shot's story.
A Legacy of Books
When you set out to create a photo-essay book on an entire state, you travel a lot. During the course of researching and taking photographs for four books, Tom Poland and Robert Clark have driven down many a Carolina road. From the green northwest corner into the Piedmont, through the Pee Dee and Sandhills, and into the Lowcountry, they've traveled thousands of miles and documented South Carolina's gems, both hidden and known.
Their most recent trips culminated in a beautiful coffee-table book published by the University of South Carolina Press this past spring. Reflections of South Carolina, Volume 2, showcases the state's beauty, history, geography and culture. Both USC Press and South Carolina Wildlife have a history of publishing writers with a heart for the great South Carolina outdoors, and we're pleased to be able to offer our subscribers a special deal on Reflections of South Carolina, Volume 2 when you order directly from the publisher. Just call the USC Press toll-free order line at 1-800-768-2500 and place your order with the code SCWMD to receive 10 percent off the retail cover price.
Over the course of 2015, we'll be featuring other USC Press authors who love the outdoors (and more great deals)! In our January-February issue, look for an excerpt from Den Latham's Painting the Landscape with Fire. In March-April, it'll be Dana Beach's Deveaux. May-June will feature Archibald Rutledge's classics Claws and The Doom of Ravenswood, with new material by artist Stephen Chesley and authors Jim Casada and Ben McC. Moise. The July-August Sportsman's Calendar issue will offer a sneak peak at the new Jacob F. Rivers III-edited anthology of classic early Southern sporting tales from 1830-1910. September-October will feature H. William Rice's The Lost Woods, and we'll finish out the year in the November-December issue with an excerpt from frequent SCW contributor A. Hunter Smith's new book, Stories from a Life Afield.