ADVISOR OWEN BROWN FOUNDER OF GREEN VISIONS OPEN LENS TALKS ECO-PHOTOGRAPHY SERIES
New York based award winning commercial fashion photographer and FLOBEL Advisor Owen Brown is Founder & Creative Director of Green Visions Open Lens (GVOL), a life-nurturing environment that celebrates all creation. Lovingly sculpted out of beautiful, untamed woodland in Stone Ridge, NY, the GVOL campus is a veritable microcosm of all the ecosystems found in the Northeastern United States. With brooks, woods, wetlands, gardens, flower beds and rock formations, all accessible via gentle walking paths and natural wood bridges the GVOL campus ignites creative fires. Brown has spent the last thirty years transforming the property into a literal wonderland celebrating the joys and beauty of environmental consciousness. In this Nectar News interview Brown chats with Editor Nicole Javanna Johnson about the mission of GVOL, the Sunrise Sunset eco-photography series, and his hopes to inspire community action for climate change.
NJ: Tell us more about your experience with eco-photography. Do you consider it an industry practice, spiritual practice, or maybe something that you’ve developed a love for on your journey as a commercial photographer?
OB: I was born in Jamaica and I grew up on Sea Breeze Avenue in Kingston. Sea Breeze Avenue is close to the beach and it’s a very exclusive neighborhood. My parents and relatives owned a block of one side of Sea Breeze and we had tons of fruit trees. I remember, the one who would get up early in the morning would get the best mangos. So, as little kids we would get up early and grab the mangos to trade for fish with the fishermen who would cast their nets on the beach. So I’ve always appreciated nature and recognized its value for emotional well being. My mother was a hairdresser in Jamaica and my father was a building contractor and he branched off into various other businesses as well. We moved into the last house that he built and I started gardening on the property. Moving forward several years, you can see that my love for gardening developed into the Green Visions Open Lens property. My very first photograph was in fact a picture of the garden at my father’s house. All of the sudden I’m back to nature, back to where I started taking photos of my garden. So it’s a very personal practice that I now thoroughly enjoy sharing with others.
NJ: You are continuously producing new photography initiatives that raise awareness for causes like climate change and global warming. What motivates you?
OB: What motivates me is what’s happening in the universe, particularly the country. The Green Visions Open Lens property takes us back to nature in a sense, and I can see first hand all the negative effects of climate change and global warming right on my property. I have a brook that runs through the center of the property about three quarters of a mile. I have wetlands and woods and I’ve owned the property for about 34 years. Initially, the environment was so intense with nature. There used to be all types of fish in the brook. The cranes the ducks, the muskrats the turtles live off that environment. This year at the beginning of the summer I saw a small amount of fish in the brook and after that they just deteriorated. I’ve never seen this before, and now that there are no fish, the cranes have abandoned the environment as well. These animals were dependent on the environment for their food. The dramatic change in the wetlands is also very disappointing. I’m inspired to keep working with these initiatives because of my first hand experience with climate change.
NJ: In 1999, you also established Positive Reflections. Tell us more about the mission of that venture.
OB: Positive Reflections is an extension of my work incommercial photography. I began working as an advertising fashion photographer in 1966. That industry becomes somewhat of a revolving door and after a while I found that it was no longer fulfilling. So, I started working on public service campaigns like anti-smoking. Soon after, I formed Positive Reflections. The mission of Positive Reflections is to create positive images in the media to create a better understanding among all people. With this venture I addressed issues like childhood obesity and creating a more sustainable planet for future generations. Soon after I moved on to build the Green Visions Open Lens campus.
NJ: What is the mission of the GVOL campus and what are your hopes for those who visit?
OB: I want people to become conscious of their environment, climate change and global warming. Ultimately, I want people to practice all of the necessary things to save the planet. That is also the mission of my Sunrise Sunset series.
NJ: The establishment of the Sunrise Sunset series came out of the experience with your GVOL campus?
OB: It all spins out from Green Visions Open Lens. GVOL is the original that I started to teach individuals who are interested in nature photography. I would take them on field trips on my property and teach them how to execute nature photography to it’s fullest and to be conscious about climate change and global warming. Honestly, with GVOL I could only go so far and I felt that my creative energy was being smothered. I came up with Sunrise Sunset to further my climate change awareness work beyond the campus. With the Sunrise Sunset series we go to corporations and encourage them to use images captured by Sunrise Sunset in their ad campaigns. I have 400 images so far and we hope that these companies use our images for public service campaigns, murals in their lobbies or outdoor posters to create consciousness about climate change and global warming.
Armed with professional experience and the advertising and commercial connections critical for success, Owen opened his commercial photography studio in 1966. He quickly earned a reputation as an aggressively innovative fashion photographer who mastered technology to capture and enhance motion. He currently uses his highly developed photography skill set primarily for climate change and global warming efforts. “I feel that I’ve reached a level of artistic awareness and ability that’s allowing me to crystallize all of my life work into the Green Visions Open Lens experience. I consider it my masterwork of love that I can now share with the world. I’m ready to devote my life to teaching what I’ve learned”. To learn more about Owen’s work and the Green Vision Open Lens Campus visit www.greenvisionsopenlens.com