SNAKE MEDICINE – A Critical Review

Sacred Earth Sites:

Seeing The Unseen, Vol. 1

By Scott Angus and Emily Sopensky

The world is filled with sacred sites, but most of us will never get to see only a handful. Enter photographer Scott Angus and his associate, Emily Sopensky, who have collected some of the most compelling locations in the US in their dynamic book, Snake Medicine: Sacred Earth Sites: Seeing The Unseen, Vol. 1 (Sopensky/Angus LLC).

Much more than a travel guide, this deeply personal work attempts to capture the power of the ancient sites depicted with its visual and written descriptions. Beyond the spiritual, there is also a practical angle: Angus is a teacher, and the book offers insights that may be helpful to budding photographers who look to capture the essence of the earth.

Like such revered landscape photographers as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and others, Angus looks at a site and reimagines the immense and raw power of its presence in his work, delivering not just a captured moment, but a mood and environment that compels introspection.  Photos offered are in color and black and white, a unique touch that captures the essence of his stellar photography skills.

Sopensky does an excellent job of conveying Angus’s thoughts on his work with a direct and style that never intrudes or overblows the subject. Beyond a practical explanation of the sites, she captures Angus’s voice in a way that makes you feel like you’re riding along on the trip.

The book takes us through 21 locations, ranging from the Monticello slave graveyard in Virginia to Superstition Mountains in Arizona, on through to California. Such mysteries as the Anasazi ruins of an ancient civilization are explored, but some randomly encountered wonders are also captured in the book, reminding us we should always be conscious of the amazing beauty that surrounds us, even if it has no “official”designation. It is referred to as “seeing the unseen,”and is a theme returned to throughout the book.

As for the title, Snake Medicine is taken from Native American traditions, wherein the snake represents the shedding of skin as a life begins. This debut collection is taken from a cross-country trip that spawned a new career and life. By viewing these photographs and drinking in the richness of the experience, readers will be compelled to examine their own place in the world, and perhaps begin a similar journey toward new horizons. It is highly recommended for anyone willing to appreciate the glory and beauty found in landscapes.