Hey, everyone! It has been several months since my last post here in the Journal, and if you haven't guessed, I've been staying busy with several projects lately. I've also been leading lots of private photography workshops, and I've spent time volunteering with the Parks in Focus program during their outings to the Grand Canyon.
Back in early May, I was in Tucson, Arizona as a guest of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) at the 2023 Nature Photography Summit, where I was a keynote speaker. I gave a 50-minute presentation and shared my experiences photographing the Grand Canyon from the rim to the river. My presentation represents a visual journey exploring the Grand Canyon on foot and by raft, highlighting the wide-open vistas from the rim of the canyon down into the hidden wonders along the Colorado River. I shared how I have spent countless days in freezing temperatures waiting for a winter storm to break, wet and cold chasing monsoon storms, and hiking for several miles up remote side canyons in search of rarely seen waterfalls cascading through slot canyons.
The Summit was a great experience full of incredible speakers and photographers. Still, the highlight for me was hearing my good friend and conservation photographer Dave Showalter share his epic visual journey through the Colorado River watershed from its source in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Sea of Cortez. In his presentation, Dave shows we can have a resilient watershed if we change our relationship with water. Dave has published a beautiful book titled Living River: The Promise of the Mighty Colorado, and I encourage you to add it to your bookshelf or coffee table.
A day after I returned home to Flagstaff from Tucson, I was back on the road for several private photography workshops at the Grand Canyon. It has been a very interesting Spring, with fresh snow falling in March, a relatively mild April, followed by a monsoon-like weather pattern in the middle of May.
I genuinely love teaching photography and sharing my passion for the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. I've had the privilege of guiding photographers from all around the globe, helping them improve their photography skills while learning to see the Grand Canyon in new and exciting ways.
Although I have been very busy, I've managed to find some time for myself. I've been spending a fair amount of time hiking along the rim of the canyon in search of new vistas. You would think that there isn't anything new or different to see and photograph at the Grand Canyon, but even after 15 years, I'm still finding new locations or seeing old locations in a new light. I recently came across a fairly remote overlook that I've never seen in a photograph. The location is difficult to reach and requires a challenging scramble to get to. I've visited the location several times over the past few months to see it in different qualities of light. It's exciting to know that there is still so much to be discovered and photographed at the Grand Canyon.
You may already know that I feel very fortunate to live my life and experience the incredible wonders of our public lands, and as such, I am a big believer in giving back to the community. I spent 14 years in a volunteer search and rescue program, but after becoming a professional landscape photographer, I wanted to find a way to give back to the arts and the parks.
Back in July of 2010, I happened to be staying in the Artist-in-Residence housing inside the Verkamp's building on the South Rim as a guest of the National Park Service when, through a happy coincidence, a group from the Stewart L. Udall Foundation's Parks in Focus program happened to be passing through. Parks in Focus is an excellent program that connects middle school youth to nature through photography, environmental education, outdoor recreation, and creative expression. I immediately had a flashback to my experience as a child when I had the opportunity to be part of a group of kids that painted a mural with the legendary artist Keith Haring, and I thought that perhaps Parks in Focus would be a great way to give back to both the parks and the arts.
I worked with my first group from Parks in Focus that summer of 2010, and I have been working with several of their groups each summer since then. During our outings, I share with the kids what it means to be a professional landscape photographer, the challenges we face, and the rewards of the job. I also talk about how art, including landscape photography, has been used to educate the public and shape the creation of our public lands. We then go on a photo walk through the forest and out to the rim of the canyon. We spend time talking, making many photos together, and sharing ideas for different types of compositions. When it's time to wrap up, I gift each of them a matted 8x10" print because I believe one of the most significant ways to inspire others is to share our work with them.