Behind The Photograph

(Great photography evokes a visceral emotion. And all photos have a back story.)

I remember becoming acutely aware of the sound my shoes were making on the dirt as I walked up to the canyon.

I had a queasy sensation that I had only one time before when going on a photo shoot.

Since this was Navajo land we had to hire a guide. That would only give us one hour to take it all in and shoot as many photographs as possible.

Right outside of Page, Arizona is the nature photographer’s dream, Antelope Canyon. My Dad and I had wanted to come here for years since we saw photos. Antelope Canyon is a ribbon of slot canyons that was carved away by centuries of water making it’s way through narrow channels in the rock. In order to get to the canyons, you have to hire a Navajo guide, and descend a series of ladders, in to a collection of very narrow passageways. The winding curves, shades of color, and layered rock from years of erosion made these unique rock formations. The trick is to get light at the perfect time of day, in order to get light shafts that pierce the canyon floor and create that soft golden glow that makes for great photography.

We found our guide, read the warnings about the frequent flash floods, and descended the ladders in to the narrow cavern.

I knew I had to balance being in the moment, and taking as many photographs as possible. I’m a firm believer that constantly checking your phone, tweeting, foursquaring, facebooking, actually takes away from your in the moment experiences which is ultimately detrimental to your memories and happiness.

But I would only have an hour.

So we descended in to the canyon. We climbed. We photographed. We ducked. We peered. I tried to take it all in. The amazing shades of orange and reds from the centuries of eroded rock. So many photographic possibilities  You could stand in one spot and shot forward, shoot up, shoot an angle, shoot portrait, shoot landscape, change settings, etc. And then you could kneel down and do the same thing and get an entirely different perspective. You could go insane trying to get the perfect angle, with the perfect light, at the perfect time. Getting the “perfect shot” was going to require the least talked about photography skill, a little bit of luck. We photographed. We explored. We marveled. We could easily have gone insane with the possibilities in the canyon, and for that I was almost thankful we only had an hour.

By the end, I had taken 300 photos. Just the right amount of shots for memories, and just the right amount of time allotted for me to remain in the moment.

The hour was up.

We laughed, high fived, and ascended the ladders back in to the Arizona light to the surface above.

[Photo: Antelope Canyon outside of Page, Arizona. Note the lighting, texture, and four different color shades. Also, how that looks like a nose.]

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