Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Before All Else: Love

" But before all else, a work of art is the creation of love. Love for the subject first and for the medium second.... Love is the general criterion by which the rare photograph is judged. It must contain it to be not less than the best of which the photographer is capable" 
Eliot Porter 

If there is ever a place that fully delights all my sensibilities, the hiker, the painter and the photographer and more, it is
 The Painted Desert.

It conjures up memories of those narrated Walt Disney nature movies, that little rock collection my mother bought for me at the Grand Canyon which held a little vial of layered and colored sand. It delights every bit of the artist within when I see pastel layers now brought into full chromic saturation by the summer rain. The colors seem to run as they do on a sheet of pre-moistened warm Arches, down slopes, into crevices creating patterns and mingling with the next hue in fine outstretched fingers. Sweeping lines and soft muted domes like a field of sweet ice-cream cones rolling on forever. In my compositional thought processes I make no distinction between photos or paintings, paint or pixels. 

It's all art to me. 

As always, I stand out here alone. What once was a little park on the edge of the Painted Desert Rim Drive is now vandalized and tagged, dirty and forgotten. I've never seen anyone here looking out at this magnificent place or photographing it .  A part of me loves the solitude yet I'm aware that this landscape is not as cherished by others as it is by me and I find that sad. Confusing and sad.

It someone told me I'd have to pick a landscape to shoot for the rest of my life, I'd pick the desert. When I'm there, I lose all sense of myself and time. There is an aire of excitement with every image I spy through the viewfinder.   I realize how important it is to be excited, inspired and motivated by the landscapes and the beloved earth we stand on. In love with this planet and natural wonders it beholds, not the superficialities we tend to mire in. It's where I anchor my values and find baseline reality. I don't care what others are shooting, what is considered trending or on the front page of 500px or who is bemoaning the current state of photography. 

Seems to be just about everyone these days.
I'm happy here. 

I'm only there to photograph because I've fallen in love with this part of the desert. I drove in the early pre-dawn darkness just to view this on a rainy summer morning.
The air is heavy with the monsoon and the fresh smell of sage, I'm standing on the edge of the rim and feeling the warm, moist summer winds and I can see forever. 

I'm not motivated by commerce or media. No social pressure or time constraints here. I'm here because I know I'll love the photographic images I'll come home with. I'll be challenged by the compositions and they'll tumble and roll around in my head as to how I will see them next time.  Ten years from now, I revisit the images, smile and remember that silly dog. What I love about photography is that it's a constant quest to hone the tools and technique to better express the emotion and vision. 

That's my deal,
 that's my voice, 
that's my primitive handprint on the wall.

I'll work on my hyper focal distance and strive for an improvement in sharpness (from my last visit) I'll play with different lenses and settings. 

Tinkering in a private little world, as I've done my whole life. 

I'll sit on the back of my SUV and feel the wind and rain on my face and note that I've not seen another person for hours. I ate lunch with a stray dog and tooled around the country roads. 

If there ever was a place that fully delights all that is me...

It is here.