Peter Lik’s Tree? No, it’s not.

The Tree.

Dragons Breath - Aaron Reed Photography

In the city of Portland, Oregon there is a world-famous Japanese Maple tree, located just inside the gates of the Portland Japanese Garden just waiting to capture your spirit and imagination. When you visit the garden and see this tree in person, or view beautiful photographs like the ones I share with you below, you may fantasize about the magic of this tree and the story of where it came from. It is difficult not to envision a small world of fairies or other mythical creatures creating homes here, built from the small ferns that surround it, scavenging the “forest” for mushrooms and other edibles. In reality, this glorious Japanese Maple that helps draw over a quarter million visitors each year to the garden, may have much more humble beginnings than you may think.

History of the Garden

In 1958, Portland became a sister city to Sapporo, Japan, helping to create a broad interest in Japanese culture. Soon after, several business leaders and the Mayor of Portland decided it would be wonderful for Portland to have a traditional Japanese Garden. On June 4th, 1962, the City Council created a commission to establish the garden on the site of the former Washington Park Zoo. The Japanese Garden Society of Oregon was formed in 1963 by Portland citizens interested in promoting a more intimate relationship between the Peoples of Japan and our city and state. Takuma Tono, a Tokyo Agricultural University professor and internationally recognized authority on Japanese landscape design, was commissioned to design and supervise the development of the garden and he began landscaping the garden that year. In the summer of 1967, the Portland Japanese Garden formally opened to the public. The 5.5-acre Japanese garden is composed of five separate gardens: Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden, Flat Garden, and Sand and Stone Garden.

Back to the Tree

Firebird - Aaron Reed Photography

This beautiful Japanese Maple tree that so many have grown to love, was not an original planting in the garden. No one is 100% sure of exactly when it was planted, or where it came from. Speaking to Adam Hart, Senior Gardener of the garden, after looking through historical photographs, I was told that this laceleaf maple was most likely planted sometime around 1971 and is between 65-70 years old. According to Mr. Hart, the tree was not very impressive when it was first planted, so there aren’t many photographs of it from those early days and the photographs he could find showed a fairly small and unspectacular specimen. The origin of the tree is also a mystery, but many of the laceleaf maples were donated from people in the community and while we are not sure that this was the case, you can see other spectacular laceleaf maples in the yards of beautiful homes along the road leading to the garden.

A Tree for all Seasons

Each and every season brings about change and rebirth inside the garden and the tree is no exception. It is spectacular all year round and an incredible photographic subject any time of the year.

White Lightning - Winter - Aaron Reed Photography

White Lightning – Winter – Aaron Reed Photography

Green Dragon - Spring - Aaron Reed Photography

Green Dragon – Spring – Aaron Reed Photography

Believe In Magic - Fall - Aaron Reed Photography

Believe In Magic – Fall – Aaron Reed Photography

The Peter Lik Effect

World renowned, Australian born photographer Peter Lik has captured numerous images of this tree throughout the years including pieces titled “Tree of Life” “Tree of Zen” and “Inner Peace”. With galleries around the world combined with the natural beauty of the tree itself, it is no wonder that almost every time I share a photograph of the tree someone says “It’s the Peter Lik Tree” or, “I have loved this tree ever since I saw Peter Lik’s version of it…and yours is as good or better!” I guess it just goes to show how the success of an image can follow you and in some ways become a part of who you are as a photographer.

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and spent the majority of my life there. In 2008, when I picked up my first camera, I began looking for places inside the city that I could photograph and stumbled across an out of focus, dreamy interpretation of this tree by a fellow photographer named Zeb Andrews. I had never heard of Peter Lik at this time and Zeb’s image was the only one I had ever seen before visiting the garden myself in the fall of that year. I have returned every year since then, capturing the tree in all four seasons.

In early 2013 I began offering a portion of my work as limited edition pieces, including the majority of my photographs of this beautiful tree. Since then I have sold hundreds of pieces from this collection, with the majority of them being large format prints on high gloss ChromaLuxe aluminum sheeting. Living Lightning, released in February 2013, has currently sold 130 of the 200 pieces in the limited edition. Dragon’s Breath, also a limited edition of 200 was released in November 2013 and has sold the first 40 pieces in just the past 7 months. The success of these images has even caused some to start calling this tree the Aaron Reed tree which I think it equally humorous to calling it Peter Lik’s.

Despite what others may think or how they choose to reference it, this majestic tree is not Peter Lik’s, nor is it mine, nor anyone else. The greatest value of this tree lies in the fact that it is there for everyone to see, to wonder, to experience and to share in a weird little city called Portland. :) For those who may have never been and would like to see the garden during the peak of fall color, the 3rd week in October is a pretty good bet for a time to choose to visit. Don’t hesitate, because this tree can change from green to orange to red and finally drop its leaves all in the course of a week. If you do visit, I hope you enjoy the tree and the rest of the garden as much as I have and will continue to, year after year.

If you are interested in purchasing pieces from my Limited Edition collection, including all of my captures of this tree including “Dragon’s Breath”, “Living Lightning”, “The Green Dragon”, “White Lightning”, “Believe In Magic” and my newest addition “Firebird”, please visit my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com or simply send me a message below:

Living Lightning - Aaron Reed Photography

Living Lightning – Aaron Reed Photography

For LOVE or MONEY?

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There are two distinct but quite different types of people who purchase artwork of any variety including fine art photography, the connoisseur and the collector. There are yet others who are a combination of the two that appreciate beautiful art, a great value and the opportunity to see a return on their investment. I would like to share with you how you can have the best of both worlds and how one man in Phoenix, Arizona has turned his business and his love for art into an amazing gallery for all to enjoy.

A collector will usually choose a piece that already holds significant value in the eyes of the general public & the art world. This does not mean they do not also enjoy the piece, it simply means that their first priority is usually the value of the piece and whether or not they expect this value to rise in the future. Before anything else it is a business decision. This type of collector often cares very deeply about how those around them feel about their purchase and many times will choose a piece simply for bragging rights or for show.

The connoisseur simply appreciates quality artwork. As with any form of artwork, the piece still needs to speak to the person considering it for purchase yet the current value and potential investment are less of a concern, if a concern at all. The connoisseur will fall in love with a piece, without concern about how others feel about it. The piece will usually create a deep connection with them, whether tied to a past experience, a precious memory, a friend or family member or simply a beautiful feeling. Whatever the reason, this person purchases a piece for the LOVE of the art.

In the world of nature photography, there are countless photographers offering you their interpretation of the world around them. Unlike a painter or sculptor, any two photographers can stand in the same place and create beautiful images of what they see through the lens of their camera. Both of these visions may be appealing to you as someone considering a piece of art for your home or business, but typically only one will stand out, or speak to you on a deeper level. In my opinion, this is the voice you should listen to when you consider a piece of nature or landscape photography because ultimately nothing else matters. A piece of fine art photography from a well-known artist currently valued at $35,000 may be worth $10,000 or less five years from now. In contrast, a piece from an up and coming artist currently costing just $1,000 hypothetically has much more room for growth in value as well as less investment risk. In addition, if you can find an artist whose work you appreciate for the art itself, you may be able to purchase multiple pieces from them, bringing even greater beauty and real value to yourself and those you are sharing this work with.

For example, world-famous photographer Peter Lik regularly commands prices in the tens of thousands for his work. He offers limited editions that can be as large as 950 pieces, including up to 45 artist proofs. If you purchase one of these pieces, say number 145/950, and the edition never sells out, chances are the piece you purchased will not increase in value over time because the gallery that sold you the piece is still offering this same piece in their collection. One way to determine the actual current value is to take a look on the auction site eBay. One of these same pieces that the gallery lists for $35,000 or more, may be currently offered from multiple sellers, for far below the price currently being offered by the gallery. If you purchase this piece today as an investment, you may find yourself needing to sell it at a time when the market is soft, causing you a significant loss on your investment.

These are just a few of the reasons that I suggest purchasing a piece that you fall in LOVE with first, considering its current and perceived value second to that. This will help protect you from potential disappointment and possible regret in the future. I am a fine art nature photographer who chooses to offer my work at a great value to my clients. Many of the pieces I sell have very low profit margins. While I do operate a successful business with my photography and hope to continue to do so in the near future, I also enjoy being able to offer my customers high quality fine art luxury nature photography at affordable prices.

Last week, a gentleman named Charles, an Orthopedic Surgeon from Phoenix, Arizona recognized this value and capitalized on it in a major way for him and his clients. A doctor’s or dentist office is the perfect place for high quality nature photography due to the aesthetic and soothing properties it can bring to those who view it. Instead of purchasing just one piece of fine art photography for $35,000 or more, Charles was able to purchase a total of 34 amazing pieces of limited edition artwork for his office, transforming it from an uninviting office building into an amazing art gallery! The pieces Charles purchased, were all Limited Edition Metal Prints that I offer ranging in size from fully framed pieces measuring 36″ wide x 24″ tall, all the way to 80″ wide by 43″ tall. The majority of these pieces were larger than 45″ x 30″. After receiving a large quantity discount, for just under $25,000 Charles was able to completely fill the large office as well as every single patient room with beautiful nature photography. In addition, the Limited Editions that I offer range from just 50 to 200 total pieces, with some of them already nearing 75% sold out. The potential for increased value in these pieces is very promising, but this value has already been surpassed by the peace and serenity that has been given to his clients on a daily basis.

The choice is yours, for LOVE or money, investment or real value. The images above and below this post are the ones Charles ultimately decided on and if you ever find yourself on the unfortunate end of serious injury in Phoenix, you may just find yourself in a room full of beautiful art. The much more pleasant way to go of course would be to visit my website at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com and choose a few pieces for yourself. As always, I want to say thank you to those of you that support up and coming artists like myself and hope you are able to appreciate my work for many years to come.

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