Cliff & Maples, Tunnel View

Zion National Park, Utah, 2000 View Full Zion Portfolio »

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Field Notes (from 2001)

A lesson of good photography which I’m still learning is to explore an area of interest or inspiration thoroughly. Consider all the angles and viewpoints of a particular subject. You might discover new and creative ways of seeing that can help form a personal vision of photographic expression which you can truly call your own. A combination of patience, personal persistence and a willingness to open yourself up to what’s around you can pay off tremendously in your photographic work.

It took over 3 years for “Cliff & Maples” to be realized as a photograph. The primary maple tree in the image had caught my attention while waiting in a car line to go through the historic Zion Tunnel in Zion National Park. I was chasing summer thunderstorms that day and figured the maple tree might make an excellent photograph in the Fall when in color. So off I went. I returned to Zion several times paying my respects to this beautiful tree but never found the photograph that felt true to my original interest.

The tree never left my thoughts and when I returned once again in the Fall of 2000, I discovered what had been missing. On this particular visit I purposely sat myself down off the road and contemplated the tree and its surrounding environment. After awhile it dawned on me that the tranquility I felt was the beautiful balance of this relatively fragile maple in direct contrast to the massive sandstone cliffs that at once sheltered and threatened it. Communicating a sense of that relationship was where the real photograph was. After that rather crystallizing moment, making the actual photograph felt relatively easy.

About the Zion National Park Portfolio

Over the arc of my adult life and my near 25-year immersion into photography, no place has had greater influence or offered essential sanctuary than Zion National Park. Trying to succinctly describe this influence feels nearly impossible. The love I have for this extraordinary place is akin to the love of a child or partner; you would do anything, including die, if necessary, to ensure your love's life over yours.

Photography seemed the natural vehicle to express my profound awe and wonderment in attempting to convey my initial Zion experiences. And those initial photographs focused on the iconic experiences a new visitor often enjoys: Angel's Landing, The Narrows, Emerald Pools. But, with successive visits (pretty much whenever I could), my focus began a gradual yet persistent evolution towards more specific and subtle subject matter. Photographs that initially merely recorded or looked at the larger, grander landscape began to look into, to ascertain and comprehend the essential details that comprised the whole. And those details, whether water, tree, or stone are so varied and provide me with such joy, I know I could spend lifetimes exploring them and not exhaust their power.

While I do not live here year round, Zion has taught me the profundity of place and the power it has to shape you, offering essential life lessons only a commitment to intimate connection can provide. To this day, I find my struggles in life can be given perspective and insight by a simple sojourn into the park where I walk at once sheltered and exposed, listening to the musings of an old friend, humbled by her display of the lovely, brutal, essential intricacies of life.

Cliff & Maples, Zion National Park

Cliff & Maples, Tunnel View

Zion National Park, Utah, 2000

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