Around our house we use the term ‘imaginary friend’ for anyone I know on the internet but have never met in person or talked to on the phone (yes, I do realize that needing a term for this category of people is a modern dilemma!). By that definition, Clint McLean is my newest imaginary friend. Although not primarily making his living in the food industry, Clint has taken some of the most interesting pictures of salt in its native areas that I’ve ever seen.
I asked him via email how he came to take such wonderful pictures of salt; I was too lazy to send Clint actual interview questions but he didn’t need much prompting to tell a wonderful story. Here’s what Clint had to say:
“I fell into my salt obsession; I got interested in salt after reading a book by Mark Kurlansky on the world history of salt. It’s a fascinating book and it planted a seed. (Note from DM: I read this book myself a couple of years ago and it is, indeed, a very good book.)
A few months after reading Kurlansky’s book I was in Peru visiting small remote villages in the Andes. On my way to Machu Picchu I visited Cusco where I heard about Maras, an area where there are salt terraces. I went to check them out. I got to the terraces late and didn’t have very easy light to work with for shooting but managed to get a roll or so shot.
I brought salt home from Maras, too. It’s this gorgeous clump of earth with a salt crust. I’ve since begun to collect salt souvenirs from all the salt areas I visit.
Though that trip marked the beginning of my salt odyssey as a photographer, the first salt I saw in its natural setting was near Siwa in Egypt. I was in a donkey cart driven by this 8- or 9-year-old kid and his little brother who was sleeping beside him, heading to a spring from this oasis town. The sun was half-set and the sky was beautiful as we passed what looked like little ice ponds that turned out to be salt ponds. Since then, I’ve found salt in every location I’ve visited to be equally magical. In June I’ll head out for another 6 weeks to shoot some more salt and I can’t wait to see what I find.
I don’t know that I can list what I’ve learned from these trips. I find it more about experiences than facts. Certainly I’ve learned how they harvest salt in Uyuni and how they harvest it in Taoudenni, but the trip is more about just being there. Whether I’m on my way to the salt or watching people drag salt laden boats to shore, it’s really about being in the moment. Salt is a good catalyst and focus for my travels but if it wasn’t salt it would be something else… or nothing else but capturing the moment would still be my purpose.”
Spoken like a true artist! I strongly recommend that you visit Clint McLean’s site to see his salt photos and other excellent work. Here are links to some of my favorite images on his site:
And finally, here’s a portrait of me that Clint took: