“Randy and I have been hand in hand with each other for over 30 years now,” says Meg Boscov of her husband, Randall Brown. “It’s been really special that we can creatively work together. I think we’re inspired by each other.”
That inspiration has led to their first collaborative coffee-table book, fittingly titled Hand in Hand (Matter Press, 124 pages), which was released this spring. It marries two perspectives: macro photography and micro fiction.
Brown has been writing micro fiction for years. Also known as flash fiction, it tells a fully developed story in a small number of words. The former English teacher at Jenkintown High School returned to his own studies at the age of 38 to pursue a master’s degree in fine art, with a focus on fiction writing. An adjunct professor at Rosemont College who previously taught at Saint Joseph’s University, Brown has garnered recognition and awards for his work.
Unlike her husband, Boscov is a relative newcomer to the arts. A former dog trainer, she found herself taking photos of the animals she was working with, often “zeroing in on little elements like puppies and their little paws.”
Boscov only picked up photography seriously about a year ago. And like her current subjects—flowers, plants and the occasional insect—she was a natural. Typically taken with a macro lens—allowing for an extreme close-up that magnifies the subject—her photos are anything but ordinary. She started in the garden at their Wayne home, snapping easy-to-miss moments in a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes that can be interpreted in different ways. “She would take me out to the garden, and still I couldn’t see it,” says Brown. “I was just struck by the difference between what I was seeing and what she was seeing in her photographs.”
While Brown couldn’t initially grasp what his wife was honing in on, he was intrigued. “They seemed otherworldly and sort of alive,” he says. “As a writer, it became inspiring to me. Art is one of those outlets for creative expression that really can be personal and show everyone’s unique perspective and way of looking at the world.”
Brown would spend time looking at his wife’s photographs, then write fiction pieces that seemed related. Initially, he shared these writings weekly on his online literary journal, Sunday Focus. “Because [the photos and stories are] so tiny, there might be the inclination to rush through it,” he says. “The idea was to put a lot of focus on something very small for a while before you move on.”
The same holds true for the book, which has 52 entries intended to be read one at a time for the duration of a year. That’s about how long the entire process for Hand in Hand took. Boscov didn’t shoot anything specifically for the book. Rather, she and Brown collaborated on what fit, feeding off each other’s inspiration. “It seemed like an interesting mix, where you took something that most people would pass over and seems insignificant or too tiny to notice,” says Brown. “[Micro fiction and macro photography] both blend that way.”
Finding inspiration all around, many of Boscov’s photos were taken locally at nearby public gardens like Chanticleer, Stoneleigh and Jenkins Arboretum. Their own garden remained a source, too. “There’s a whole world out there in everyone’s yard and everyone’s windowsill if we just go really look,” says Boscov. “You can feel like an explorer. I do.”
Boscov and Brown enjoyed the process so much that they hope to do another book. For now, they want readers to find inspiration in Hand in Hand’s pages. They facilitate that inspiration with a number of prompts throughout its pages, encouraging readers to experience the world a little differently. “I think the book can maybe offer some peace and a getaway,” Boscov says.