After moving to St. Michaels after a long and successful law career, Jeff McGuiness set out to catch up on many things he had missed out on during his professional life. The first was to return to his passion for photography which he abandoned after serving as an Air Force photographer to enter law school. The other was catching up on his reading, beginning with David Blight’s award-winning biography of Frederick Douglass a few years back.
Like many in America, McGuiness was profoundly moved by Blight’s portrait of Douglass, including passages devoted to the formerly enslaved person’s life in Talbot County, some of which occurred just a stone’s throw away from his home. But it also started to occur to Jeff that what Douglass had literally seen two hundred years ago could still be seen just outside his door in the 21st Century. Be it the Miles River, the historic estate where he was enslaved, or an old-growth forest down the street, those fields of vision were still there. More importantly, those images could be captured and synchronized to Douglass’s own words, so brilliantly documented in his three autobiographies about his life on the Mid-Shore.
The intersection of photography, history, and sense of place started Jeff McGuiness on a five-year journey to connect all three into a new book, Bear Me Into Freedom, which will be released next week. The photographer came by the Spy studio last week to discuss the project.
This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Bear Me Into Freedom please go here.