West Virginia South April - May 2019 - Page 62

Thomas Fletcher credits his grandmother as being the biggest influence on his life. He says she worked hard on her farm all her life and he was lucky to capture an image of her just after she had gathered eggs shortly before she passed away. • • • “I had a cousin — I grew up pretty close to him — and I’d say, ‘Darrell, look at that scene,” Fletcher says, explaining how he pointed out interesting areas or places he thought were beautiful. “But he’d look at me like I was crazy. I was com- posing the scene in my mind and he was just seeing broken branches.” Fletcher says he didn’t really know what he was doing when he told Darrell to “look at that scene.” He just knew he was witnessing something beautiful and, at the time, he thought he was seeing the world in the same way as everyone else. It wasn’t until he was 19 years old in 1979 and in the Navy in Millington, Tenn., just outside of Memphis, that he finally realized just how differently his scenes looked. “I said something to a friend about ‘the scene’ or some- thing, and he handed me his camera,” Fletcher says. “The moment I put the camera in front of my eye, I realized I could eliminate all the distractions and focus on the beauty. I realized it was everything I was looking for my whole life. A way to show others the beauty around us.” And he realized he had already been viewing life in a 2:3 aspect ratio — just as artists did in old paintings — as he “blocked out” his scenes. 62 ❖ SOUTH ❖ APRIL-MAY '19