Jeff O'Keeffe

Five Writings

A practice in reflection on the photographic experience.

House on the Isle

The sun is rising yet again, and the reeds that surround me are beginning to turn from straw to gold with the brilliance this new day’s light. At the very edge of the water, the ground is just thawed enough to form small pools around where my boots meet it. I look out to the House on the Isle, and imagine the life of those who live there – a quiet seclusion, maybe. Do they stand out on the water, like me, and look out as Earth, Sun, and Moon dance, socks wet and face beginning to numb from the lake’s breeze? What would it be like there in the dead of winter, and the harshest summer heat? What splendors must grace them, like me, as this celestial ballet unfurls?

Bounty of Autumn

Autumn stirs, and the torrent of green brought on by spring’s rains and summer’s sun is fading and morphing. What might it hold as it awakens? A cool, heavenly breeze engulfs me as I walk the wayside down County B, outside of Murphy’s Park. The Bounty of Autumn has been bestowed, and the trees to either side of the road are a patchwork of hues which ebb and flow as my eye wanders. This time of year holds nature’s most revered jazz performances, and as I compose and recompose, shifting moods within the medley of scarlet, gold, and green seem to accompany and complement me. I’m overcome with joy; and the breeze pulls through the stands of Birch, letting leaves loose to fall and dance in the wind.

For Absent Friends

Lilies sprout from the earth and are led up through the murk by a lighting sky, to a warm welcome from an old friend. Clean air surges through my lungs as I pull a new breath, and the cacophony of reeds surging with air dissipates to gentle sway. The trees across the lake already bask in a glow as the sun is breaking through the sky, and autumn clouds which have plagued these mornings, lilies, and trees play in the breeze. As I breathe, so do they, and each night for absent friends we both linger and anticipate a renewal of body and spirit.

Fairview Road

I still feel like a stranger to this place, though I’ve been coming my whole life. I’ve spent hours and hours aimlessly driving its roads, walking its woods, and following the sun across the peninsula as it blesses each coast with showers of golden light. Time seems to saunter alongside me here, through rain and shine, through times of doubt and times of elation. Though I feel a stranger, this place is dear to me, every inch of it. Standing on the side of the road, the scent of crisp autumnal air with hints of yesterday’s rain awakens in me a delight and peace many are offered, but few choose to revere.

Sunrise at Moonlight Bay

4am in Egg Harbor, and the sun has yet to rise. I’m driving in the dark on County E towards the lake side of the peninsula, and there is not a sliver of light on the horizon. One has to be careful driving these roads in the dark, they’re the kind of country road that seems to make transportation for deer easier than for cars. Making my way through to Bailey’s Harbor and up County Q, the slightest whisper of color is beginning to illuminate the sky. Pulling over at my destination, Moonlight Bay, I grab my gear and walk out to the water’s edge – the ground is frosted and crunches under my feet. It’s a briskly cold morning; the kind which, if clothed properly, keeps one awake and sharp. I’ve composed my image as the skies begin to light with hues of pink and crimson, and I can hear the salmon rushing upstream in Rieboldt’s Creek. It’s spawning season, the circle of the salmon’s lives is turning anew - and as the sun rises, I am acutely aware of my place in this world.