st Branches of a Tree in Winter / Lovers / Zak R. Dimitrov

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© Zak R. Dimitrov 2021

Branches of a Tree in Winter

Photography is a medium of love and loss. As Carol Mavor suggests, the photograph is an amorous catastrophe, severed from time, yet loved for holding time, umbilically connected to its referent. A picture of a lover is stolen from the original like a thin layer of skin. Having been on over 100 dates since I moved to London 4 years ago, I decided to reconnect with my former lovers. We spoke about our time together, why things between us unraveled and how life has been since then. A melancholic journey, the project empowered me to finally come out to my parents after a decade of unspoken truths. The work combines portraits of the men I once desired, stills from LGBT films with typewritten quotes from my partner at the time and relics I have saved as mementos. Branches of a Tree in Winter touches upon nostalgia and retrospect, lost love and times forever gone, but it is also hopeful. After all, these men agreed to collaborate, expecting nothing in return.

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Words by Eugénie Shinkle:

­how did we begin.

what were you to me – a profile and a few careless words,

a smile and a possibility,

the touch of a finger on a screen


and in a different time and place, a more decisive gesture

the gaze clinging,

the flicker of a hand on skin


it’s dark outside

come close

and again

flesh measured against an image – you become

a hand with a fingerprint, a mouth, a scent,

a face and a familiar outline and a rush of words,

words after words, afterwards

eyes, all of it

a long look, a lick

the heat of you

all the time in the world in no time at all

I gather scraps to hold you close

a loop of your hair – an olive stone – a train ticket

and photographs

the same place we began,

but the image is filled with you now

a smile and a promise

your profile against a background of others

my breath clouds the ground glass

I turn the negative over

and trace your shape with my fingertip,

follow your outline in the emulsion’s raised edge

close but not you

so many between you and now.