Sedona to Flagstaff: Landscapes in Arizona
Lessons learned photographing off the grid
Welcome to January 2022! And in doing so, I’m going to revisit October 2021. Not because I want anything to do with 2021 again, but because I can ignore the rest of that year and look at a photo exploring trip I took to Arizona.
If you know me as a commercial photographer, you see the work I do is 180° from the world of landscape work. My photo shoots are filled with technical puzzles, sculpting in the studio with light, high-pressure shoot-quick sets, and we-need-to-do-how-many-shots-in-a-day projects. They are filled with me being “on stage” while directing, coaching, team leading, and always being the “last man” off the set.
Don’t get me wrong; I love this world. Please give me MORE. Being on set in the middle of a project is my favorite thing. It’s fucking perfect.
But I need a counterweight to advertising work. I need to be walking, hiking, breathing, looking, reflecting, and just reacting to the light and shapes around me. I find a lot of that in landscape photography. I have my approach to this kind of image-making, and it’s not Ansel Adams Approved™ — I’m not contemplating a single vista for days on end. I’m not lugging a large format view camera. I’m not calculating the absolute best moment of light. Much respect to those that work that way - I am in awe of you.
I’m restless. I need momentum. Each photograph I make teaches me something and pushes me forward to the next one. At the end of a hike, I am a different photographer than I am at the beginning. I react and absorb what the world is giving me at the moment.
In a way, I treat the landscape like “street photography.” Some places call for being still and observing to see what will be revealed. Often it’s working-by-moving, layering the experience of moving through an area.
Lessons learned photographing off the grid.
(or at least considered? a work-in-process anyway)
Getting out of my head: switching off all those necessary instincts and skills that take me through a commercial project.
Acting on instinct: letting go of plans and letting my reactions guide me.
Making ‘bad photos’: it’s always better to be making any photos than none. The me that edits is often different than the me that shoots.
I need to separate the experience of making the images from the images themselves.
Finding the game: there’s always a game. If I can find a game while I’m photographing, it revitalizes the whole process.
I spent time in Sedona and Flagstaff - both exciting and unique places with so much more to explore. I’m hoping to get back that way in the Spring. You can always buy prints of any of my landscape work — the quick price list is here. Please email me for more info.
PHOTO FLOAT 2022 SHOUTOUT
I’ve booked a bunch of spots for my July Workshop, and the 10% discount is expiring soon! Reasons to go:
River time. The most significant gift of all.
Creative Development. It’s not a vacation, it’s a tax-deductible trip. For real. Ask your accountant.
Scenic and Wild: the Green River is remote and a unique western landscape that needs to be seen.
Rafting: the Green is a gentle, forgiving river. No big whitewater, just fun.