Yesterday I sold a print of
this dune melody I made in Death Valley a few years ago. It's been a
popular seller and for that I'm thankful. This buyer, from the East
Coast loves imagery of the West. This is a pretty common
phenom.....craving something that's not in your own backyard. This
photograph looks great large and he already has a place designated for
The buyer and I had a wonderful discussion about photography. I'm always fascinated
with the reasons why people invest in certain images. And, the answers
often surprise me. But, that's art. Everyone appreciates art in
different ways. Their interpretations may differ and hold no connection
to what the artist envisioned whatsoever.
My favorite saying is, "It only matters that it matters to you." Yet,
most of the photography hanging in our home is from other photographers.
I adore the medium and multiple visions from varied visual artists.
He asked if I had a personal favorite from my trip to Death Valley. I
said I did have one. (It's the second image added here). I explained my
early influences in the medium were less from Ansel Adams (he used that
reference) and more from Edward Weston, Paul Caponigro, Minor White,
Jerry Uelsmann, Alfred Stieglitz, Margarete Bourke-White, Dorothy Lange,
Sebastio Salgado, to name a few.
I told him this image of the
dying bush in dark volcanic soil hit me on a deeper level. I saw
something very different than what existed before me. This idea comes
from an old photography theory known as "Equivalence". I saw a solar
system exploding in stars and the bush was like a flower holding the
universe in it's grasp. No doubt, a moment I was fully absorbed in. And
though it doesn't matter, that vision has been replicated in the minds
of others. They felt the same thing I did while in the field.
Adams used to say that if he had 6 good shots in a day, it was a fine day.
That day was one of mine.
Tech Info on Dunes Photograph:
ISO 100 1/13th sec. @ F/40 with 400mm Nikon Lens, shot on Dec. 5th 2014 at 5:44 p.m.
It's no stretch to say I'm not fond of heights. But, for this
assignment on tower builders for SMITHSONIAN Magazine years ago, I had
to get up on these 1,000 footers to photograph the guys building them in
It's always amazes me how we can channel our fears
to perform our jobs. Staying focused on the job temporarily shoves the
plays a big role in how photographers create some images. Experimenting
with new techniques, a different lens, different paper, or better yet,
subject matter out of your comfort zone, adds gold into that visual tool
When I came across this old aircraft graveyard in Grey
Bull, Wyoming, I knew I wanted to give some of the images a vintage look
to facilitate how I felt about the scene.
It was an amazing
location to photograph. Problem was, I saw vintage images, B/W images,
and color images all in different areas. My brain felt like a ping-pong
match afterwards departing exhausted, but satiated.
The great photographer Minor White used to say to young shooters,
"You need to learn to listen the messages."
We spotted this barn being taken down by a couple near Belle Plaine,
Minnesota. I was in route to an assignment in the Dakota's and made a
note to myself to stop the next day on the way back if they were still
there working. They were!
I returned for four straight days as
they dismantled the entire barn, loaded onto a semi truck and took it to
New Mexico where they planned on building a cabin. Great way to recycle old wood. It was a earthy & interesting story.
I then sold numerous stories to magazines with several images being used in advertising campaigns because of those stories.
Follow your instincts and more importantly, follow through.
If it's a good idea, find a way to share it.
The lure of Iceland is an inspiring desire for many around the world.
It first harnessed my attention as a kid growing up in Alaska. On the
News was the evolving story of a new island, Surtsey, emerging from the
ocean depths. Then again in 1973, Eldfell erupts on the island of
C'mon, HOW COOL IS THAT? Mother Earth creating new land masses.
Several years ago I was doing a story on Iceland. The fine people I
met along that journey further strengthened my admiration for this tiny
island sitting directly on top of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
I had visited the Skogar Folk Museum in South Iceland and interviewed
& photographed the curator Thordor Tommasson. For those of you who
have met him, you know, you'll never forget him. What a wonderful
For this portrait we were outside a tiny house on the
grounds. Thordor was already a tiny fella. I laughed at the size of the
doorway. I knew I'd hit my head all the time in that entrance!