Mission Statement

Gathering Growth has partnered with American Forests to create a photographic archive of Champion Trees in the United States. Our commitment is to inspire and inform the public on the necessities of forest preservation and the importance of trees in our everyday lives.

Champion Trees

Champion Trees are the largest of their species. In the U.S. there are 795 Champion Trees recorded by the environmental non-profit, American Forests. Surviving the ravages of human and nature, their lives spanning hundreds and even thousands of years, these silent sentinels have watched history unfold around them.

More About Gathering Growth

‘When we tug at a single thing in nature we find it attached to the rest of the world’ - John Muir

With the rapid increase of urban sprawl, the rise of global temperature, invasive insects and much more, our forests are dwindling at alarming rates. In 2017, the photographer and archivist, Brian Kelley began to create the archive, to preserve these champions legacies and to call attention to the importance of protecting the delicate ecosystems they inhabit.

The large format photographs, captured entirely by Kelley, provide an insight into the Champion Tree’s life and the environment it occupies whether it be a major tourist destination, the streets of New York City, or The Lost Forest in the Oregon Desert. Each photograph is accompanied by audio recordings of the surrounding landscape, capturing the sounds that encompass each tree.

More About Brian Kelley

Brian Kelley (b. 1988) moved to New York City in 2006 and received his BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts. Kelley’s work resists the hurried march of consumerist modernity, seeking to halt the cyclical emptiness of our material lives to capture a sense of culture at “the end of history.” A mixed-media approach has allowed him to pursue artwork with disruptive capacities—exhaustive research, slow & meditative composition, and the repurposing of photographic mediums—all employed to reveal the artifacts left behind by the precession of simulacra. Kelley was born in Horseheads, NY and currently lives in Lumberland, NY.



International Center of Photography - ICP Projected: Gathering Growth

American Forests - Our Champion Tree Archivist Brian Kelley Gives an Update


Kodak - The Kodakery, Episode 115: Photographing Champion Trees with Brian Kelley

American Forests - Champion Tree Trek: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

American Forests - Introducing Brian Kelley, Champion Tree Archivist

Atlas Obscura - The Quiet Glory of Chronicling America’s Champion Trees

Maekan - Gathering Growth - Documenting the Champion Trees

Booooooom - #TheCreatorsClass: Gathering Growth with Brian Kelley

Furthermore / From Equinox - Master the summer: nurture your passion


Brian Kelley
Gathering Growth Photographer & Archivist

Sara Meghdari
Project Manager

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