Escalante { 27 images } Created 30 Nov 2017

These images were made at two separate workshops with Bruce Barnbaum in 2016 and 2017 in the Escalante canyons. Each work shop lasted for about week with 51/2 days of photography. It was very exciting to be able to observe a photographer who’s work has served as an inspiration for me. I followed Bruce around like a lost puppy taking every opportunity to look at his ground glass as he made images and pick his brain. Why did you make this choice? Why did you make this image? Why didn’t you make this one?

It was challenge to try to translate some of his ideas into my own way of working. An example of this would be differences in equipment. He was working with view camera where as I was using a DSLR. He had a limited number of sheets of film. I had two 34 Gb cards which can hold thousands of images. This lead to many discussions about taking time to see an image vs. shooting dozens of variations of the same subject and then editing. The temptation to simply make another image was always there. This is not to say that I felt I had to incorporate all of his suggestions or ideas. Rather the challenge put forth was to think about the decisions you are making and be prepared to defend these decisions.

During the critiques the most challenging question every one was asked was what are you trying to communicate with these images/image? Why did you make this image? Participants struggled greatly with this question. With other projects I have made this was an easier question to answer. The subjects for these projects were usually were very familiar to me and I have had clear feelings about them and what I wanted to say. Escalante is nothing like what I usually photograph.

This project’s guiding idea was borrowed/inspired by Bruce’s work. He often spoke about what some of his images looked like beyond their immediate subject matter. The cosmos rather than slit canyon for example. This concept has always been interesting to me. Another of my favorite photographers, Minor White, explored this. With this project I tried to incorporate the idea of something “beyond” while still providing a sense of what it was like to be in a place as amazing as Escalante.

I have to admit I was trepidatious about going the first time. I did not know what to expect. It cost some money to go. I would be going by myself vs. a family experience (guilt). In the end I am very glad I went. Both workshops provided multiple opportunities for me to learn from the instructors and the other participants. Bad jokes (Bruce insists there was one good joke), good food, and the adventures of the day made the experience very enjoyable and created a sense of camaraderie. With some luck I look forward to going again to Escalante.
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