July 12, 2021
It's that time of year: tourist season! The national and state parks are packed, the roads are chock full of RVs and motorcycles, as the nation collectively breathes s sigh of relief as the COVID pandemic subsides.
I have been travelling and photographing for decades, and have witnessed the transformation of photography from something practiced by a relative few with relatively few photographs to a de rigueur ritual resulting in millions of images every day. Which is to say, if you are photographing in any but the most remote location, you will not be alone.
Recently I was shooting at Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument, Utah, After emerging from shooting in the pool at the base of the falls, I was approached by a very enthusiastic fellow visitor. "That's fantastic, you're going to have a great shot and a great memory", he gushed.
On my return hike out, that "great memory" part sloshed around in mind. Is that all the photograph would be? A memory?
The answer to that question depends on your perspective, Given the profligate production of photos drive by camera phones and Faceagram, most photographs are certainly no more than memories. Travelers are documenting their exploits and sharing their memories with people they don't really know.
And that presents a challenge to any photographer (e.g. me) who is shooting not to create a memory, but to create art. When I take a photograph of any travel destination, how will it be not just another image of the thousands of images taken of that very same destination, perhaps that very same day? Or, to put it more bluntly, as a fellow hiker I met in Sulphur Creek exclaimed, "why are you bothering taking pictures of places everyone else has already photographed"?
Part of the answer is: to create an image that goes beyond memory, that in and of itself stirs an emotion in the viewer that has nothing to do with place and time.
The video at the top of this post is a collection of photographs captured in the first half of 2021. None of the locations are identified (though if you watch my videos you can find them). Instead the captions are chosen to evoke an emotion.
The images are captioned and sequenced to create an overall feeling that I cannot express in words but have been seeking ever since the tragic and untimely loss of my exceptional friend, Brian Igoe.