Original Artist Statement (1999)

Author's Note: I've chosen to keep the first artist statement I ever wrote up here as a reflectance of my own inspirational path in photography.

I can still vividly recall the cold spring morning that began my journey into landscape photography. On a whim, my girlfriend (now my wife) and I drove 700 miles overnight from California to Utah’s Zion National Park. Alone in a trailhead parking lot, sleepy and shivering in a persistent pre-dawn wind, we watched the first rays of morning light illuminate the massive cliffs of striated Navajo Sandstone and descend into Zion Canyon. The splendor of color left us breathless and I began to understand the visceral power of light on the land.

Douglas Vincent up a rock in Zion National Park
Trying to give perspective to the massive cliffs of Zion National Park.

For that short holiday weekend, as we hiked, explored and photographed, I found myself infused with a vigor I had not felt since I was a child. I reflect back on that moment as a key turning point in my life. I was awakened to an internal and undeniable primordial rhythm. With the ensuing years and the gradual development of my photography, I’ve come to understand that the essence of my life is intrinsically linked to the natural world. My photography is both an expression and celebration of my developing relationship with the landscape.

In contemplating our relationship to our natural environment, my greatest concern is the careless destruction and loss of our remaining wildlands. Over-population, corporate greed, even our own ignorance and apathy are robbing us of an essential goodness. There is no substitute to fresh mountain air, walking barefoot in a free flowing river, or the delight in spotting a surfacing whale under a twilight moon. These moments have the power to teach us more about ourselves than all the technological evolution dreamed possible.

Now, whether I’m dodging heavy surf along the Pacific Coastline, wandering among Jeffrey Pine in Yosemite Valley, or scrambling up a narrow canyon somewhere deep in the maze of the Colorado Plateau, I cherish the quietude, intimacy, and terror I feel in living out a life (at least in those moments) that feels essential and good. The photography created out of these adventures are but brief moments in time. But hopefully these captured moments portray a sense of the mystery, indelible beauty, and rugged fragility of our natural world.

Last Light on Cape Royal, Grand Canyon
Last Light on Cape Royal, Grand Canyon: a favorite image from 1999.

In the end, I hope that my photography inspires individuals to explore their own relationship to the natural world — to discover the symbiotic connection we have with the land and it’s effects on our own creative spirit. Journeys into wilderness can be journeys into ourselves where we release the shackles of cultural and material expectation. We discover that living to the fullest of our human potential does not have to come at the expense of the land on which we depend. And with that wisdom we begin to learn to be free.