Ancient Trees: Photographer Beth Moon documents some of the world’s most long-lived trees


“Beth Moon’s stunning images capture the power and mystery of the world’s remaining ancient trees. These hoary forest sentinels are among the oldest living things on the planet and it is desperately important that we do all in our power to ensure their survival.”

Dr. Jane Goodall

San Francisco photographer Beth Moon has spent 14 years on a magnificent quest to capture on camera some of the earth’s most majestic trees. Her quest has taken her from private estates to remote mountains. In order to go where the trees are, she’s explored the farthest corners of the earth.

ancient trees beth moon

Beth Moon has seen gnarled and hollow-trunked yews in English churchyards; she’s photographed the baobabs known as ‘upside-down trees’ in Madagascar, and she’s laid her hand on the umbrella-shaped, crimson-sapped dragon’s blood trees that grow only on the isle of Socotra, off the Horn of Africa.

Moon has photographed sixty of the earth’s finest trees using the painstaking platinum/palladium process, a technique so durable it echoes the lifespan of the trees themselves (for some of those trunked behemoths, that could be thousands of years). Her work has been collected in the book Ancient Trees: Portraits in Time, available from Abbeville Press and Amazon.

ancient trees

Moon says of her 14 year-long odyssey:

“Many of the trees I have photographed have survived because they are out of reach of civilization; on mountainsides, private estates, or on protected land.

Standing as the earth’s largest and oldest living monuments, I believe these symbolic trees will take on a greater significance, especially at a time when our focus is directed at finding better ways to live with the environment, celebrating the wonders of nature that have survived throughout the centuries.

By feeling a larger sense of time, developing a relationship with the natural world, we carry that awareness with us as it becomes a part of who we are.”

Beth Moon has also photographed trees by starlight in a series called Diamond Nights, inspired by research connecting tree growth with astral cycles and the movement of celestial bodies.