Photo Essay

Bernheim's Dream

Tree of Bernheim

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest (located 25 miles south of Louisville) is a 14,000 acre nature preserve and a museum of natural history dedicated to the future of our children. Once a place of man-made destruction and greed during its stripping for iron ore in the turn of 20th century, it is now a safe haven for thousands of species and a place where people of all ages, socio-economic status, and religion can go for peace and serenity.

The original owner and co-designer of the park, Isaac W. Bernheim, had a wondrous vision in 1929 for the future of his park and for the most part these have been realized in the last 80 years. During his designs he took into consideration certain aspects of nature that many photographers would appreciate. He once wrote that "nothing is static in this world." As photographers are able to capture change and progress through a lens, Bernheim knew that the world around him was changing and that preserving this little piece of heaven in such a destructive world would be paramount.

Driving into Bernheim you're immediately breath taken by the rolling hills and picturesque lakes. Half a dozen photographers were already circling the grounds with engaged couples in-tow for shoots capitalizing on the overcast day with autumn oranges and reds spilling out of the tree line. Going off the beaten path I was able to find more hidden areas of the park. Almost every corner you turned there were benches overgrown with algae and plant life. Arboretums forgotten by the local guides growing as mother nature intended. Upstream dams constructed long ago to allow for more stable camping grounds to be built. One could tell that overtime this park has expanded and contracted growing itself like the natural world it contains. Nothing is static in this little world.

Obviously a few hours in this park wasn't long enough to get a good grasp of what it is all about but the little exposure I have gotten will surely pull me back for more visits soon. As Bernheim aimed for, I couldn't help but feel at peace every moment I was there and as a photographer this allowed me to really focus on my project. My aim was to capture the organic beauty growing from seeds planted by a great man almost a century ago and also to focus on how man has interacted with this world over time through benches, pathways, and artwork. Please enjoy the first chapter of this project and as always let me know if you have any questions or critiques.

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1 response

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper gave props (30 Oct 2012):

    Beautiful photographic interpretation of Bernheim's Dream.

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