Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Story Behind the Image-Sunrise at Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park 1991: It rained the night before. Not the light sprinkling of rain the desert was used to. Not the soaking rain that brought the brown dormant plants back to the green color of life. It was a "once a decade" gully washer. It was the kind of rain that moved boulders and changed the paths of riverbeds. It was the kind of rain you that made you hope you were at home, snuggle up with a book, listening to it pounding on the roof.  Instead, I lay in my tent, watching the leaks drip from the ceiling and wondering why I ever came on this class field trip to begin with.

I could hear voices from the other side of our group campground. Commiserating with friends sounded better than trying to sleep under the constant threat of water torture. I bundled up, unzipped the tent and ran through the downpour to meet up with my classmates and instructor. Ten of us piled into an ancient VW van that night. We told stories, we shared snacks, and a we passed around a bottle of Southern Comfort until it was empty. Sometime after 1:00 in the morning, the rain stopped drumming on the roof of the van and we piled out and made our ways back to our soggy tents and sleeping bags.

The cold front came through sometime between the time I went to bed and when the alarm went off at 5:00 in the morning. I wanted to sleep in but knew the only way to stay warm was to get moving. I climbed into my car and slowly made my way past my companions still bundled up in their tents.

I parked the car beside the road and slowly made my way along a jeep trail into the desert. The landscape was quiet, dark, and encased in ice and frost. Every step I took on the frozen ground sent the sound of cracks and pops shouting across the desert.  I finally found the spindly Joshua Tree I was looking for and set up the camera. As I waited for the sunrise, I pace back and forth on the trail, occasionally skipping and jumping, to keep warm. Finally, the color of the coming sunrise began to color the lowest margins of the sky. The warm color on the horizon bled to purple then to blue and finally back to the black of night directly overhead where the stars still twinkled in the darkness. At that moment I knew I had my image. I've seen more incredible sunsets and sunrises at Joshua Tree since that morning. I've seen skies that seem to catch fire from the setting sun. I've seen fog cloaking the landscape at dawn and I've seen clearing storm send shafts of light blazing across the landscape. Still, no photo in the park has ever captured a moment for me like this one, perfectly catching the contrast between the last lingering cold of the night and the hope of the warm rising sun of the day.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Three years and some months ago my life was turned upside down. A new addition to our family arrived. In the blink of an eye, my life jumped from a planned and orderly existence into the realm of splendid chaos. In the process of learning how to be a parent, I set my photography career aside and concentrated on trying to understand the needs of a little human. It wasn't easy, but I failed, learned, and adapted. The other day, while my son was at preschool, I found myself in my office, holding onto the camera and staring through the window at a tree outside. I suddenly realized that I have a little time to spend on myself again, a little time for photography.

Much has changed in the industry in the last three years. Some of it can only be described as a great leaps forward. Some of the change, however, makes it difficult to make a living as a stock photographer. This is the basis for my new business philosophy. I want to make this fun. No preplanned production shoots with a minimum number of images to achieve. No endless rounds of submissions to busy editors to try to get an image published. I just want to enjoy my photography again, the way I did when I first picked up the camera. I want to share my life and experiences with nature photography with you and I hope you will share your experiences with me. On this blog you will find out how my images were made, What and who inspires me and interesting tips and tricks to make you photography more enjoyable and successful. Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions. I'm excited to start this journey and thrilled to be involved in photography again.

If you would like to see more of my work, please visit my website.