Landscape photography is about as old as photography itself – it has reached a level of cliche that’s hard to escape. At the same time, it isn’t the easiest art-form, either. We all have friends who have taken that ‘epic’ sunset photograph, replete with power lines and ugly houses in the foreground that completely distract from the colors, the clouds, and the experience.
I’m not a naysayer – I love that we all have cameras in our pockets, on our phones, that allow us to document majestic moments. But this doesn’t make us all artists. There’s something to be said about composition, intent, and execution. Cameras allow us all to be witnesses to nature’s majesty, but that doesn’t make us all artists. What I love about camera technology is that it hints at the possibility that we all CAN be artists – the tools to make exciting images are completely democratized, totally universal and, as I already mentioned, in each and every one of our pockets.
Get out there, guys. Keep your eyes open. Make something. Nature does all of the heavy lifting – all you have to do is recognize the beauty, pick up your camera, and give it a go.
The year was 2001 and I was a cocky asshole of a man. My girlfriend and I somehow conned her parents into lending their minivan to the enterprise and we lit-out for the western territories. I’d received an acceptance letter from the University of Arizona and I was ready to get the hell out of Kansas. Little did I know that attending the UofA would mean just about nothing, other than a pile of debt with a degree worth less than the scrap of parchment it was printed on.
But that’s a whole other story.
An 18-year-old version of me screamed down the highway in a soccer-mom van with a young slab of beautiful woman-flesh – and that’s all that mattered. We camped along the high desert, free spirits, and I will never forget the experience. Trading sex in a two-door coup for sex in a bulky 1970s-style canvas tent is probably one of the more sublime experiences this young man could have ever hoped for at the time.
We drove through Tucson and struck camp at Mount Lemon and surveyed the landscapes along the painted desert of Northern Arizona. It was the first time in my life I felt truly unfettered, rising in the morning to the sound of rushing creek water and a lovely ivory face beside me, cloaked in locks of streaming brown hair, lips upturned in a sly satisfied smile.
No drug can ever replace the experience of being eighteen years old and in love. Today’s photograph is a reminder of that innocent time; my woman by my side, unaware of the struggles ahead, I dialed the numbers in and pushed a button along the rim of the great meteor crater. This picture represents everything I held important from those lofty teenage years.
It was a good time, in tall grass and open sky. And I will take that pleasure with me into the earth.
When the time comes.