Early lesson

Alain Briot, noted Southwest photographer and founder of www.beautiful-landscape.com said to me “sometimes you can make a beautiful image in this bright sunlight”.  We had been walking all over Chaco Culture National Park, in JULY, and we stopped by this doorway.  It’s not in one of the big ruins (Casa Rinconada or Pueblo Bonita) it’s an outlier, perhaps Wijiji.  The point is this:  drop your preconceptions.  Learn to see like your camera sees….and experiment.  Magic happens.

Native American culture has played a large part in my fantasy life since I was a young child.  Wearing moccasins to school in West Virginia was a little odd, but I just wanted to BE what I thought an Indian was.  For a long while my exploration was limited to reading and combing through photography books (Edward Curtis for Native Americans).  Beginning in 2004, coinciding with the first serious pursuit of photography, I went to explore the Southwest.  It turned out to be a marvelous affirmation of following your heart.  Combine bad timing (leaving a landscape business in high season), really hot weather (105 degrees in the shade), and throw in a total leap of faith to contact Alain about private study, and BINGO:  New Life Path.Portal

5 Responses to “Early lesson”

  1. 1 Paul Chalfant
    October 25, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Your comments about making photographs grabbed my attention.
    You ask, “do we feel the need to do this?” or is it just to
    remember the moment?, you wonder.

    My thoughts swiftly went to my art — music — as I tried to answer
    this question for myself. When I play music, particularly string
    quartets, I have several thoughts demanding attention.

    1. How can I make this note, this phrase, or this movement,
    understandable to others?

    2. Is that necessary, or do I need to satisfy just myself?

    3. Am I doing what the composer wanted; would he be pleased
    to know I’m thinking while I play, not just playing by rote?

    I’ve often said that music is a time art. The sounds you make are
    gone forever as soon as you make them. I believe photography is
    a more complex art; the shutter allows your image to be captured — in an
    instant. In that respect, it’s like performing music. It’s there and

    Yet the image remains; in the camera, in your eye, in your mind. And
    finally in the print. How fortunate is that, especially if you’ve made
    a great image? And yet, I still have my music in my mind, and in my
    joy at the glory of it. While that’s different from your art, the
    similarities are there. I’m totally happy with the differences as well
    as the similitudes. Thanks for prompting me to think about these things.

  2. October 25, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Hello PC,
    Thank you for your thoughts. It’s an engaging subject and one I am investigating deeply.
    I think the similarity between music and photography (or any other creative endeavor) is
    the spirit in which we engage our craft. Is there intention in what we are doing, and
    if so, what is it? It’s probably layered, (preparing for a performance, investigating a
    composer on a deeper level, hoping to sell an image to a client, enjoying a foggy day)
    and so we can begin to peel those layers as we become more practiced, more accomplished.
    I’ve found that the peeling of the layers is my favorite part. It’s a journey of self discovery
    and it’s a journey to fullness; both in self and in my art. That fullness, or richness is
    perceived by others, the viewer or listener, and it’s for them to comment upon. That is our
    gift….and once it is offered becomes the domain of the viewer or listener. And a photograph,
    like music, can be enjoyed in that moment, yet remain with the viewer/listener. I remember
    performances much like I remember favorite photographs. They rise up…unbidden, and the
    original joy is experienced again.


  3. 3 Paul Chalfant
    October 26, 2009 at 1:53 pm


    As always when you write, you say so much so well. I appreciate it and love you for it. –paulchalfant

  4. 5 Paul Chalfant
    October 26, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I dearly love your doorway image from Chaco National Park. I know
    it was done early in your photographic career, but it shows the
    promise you’ve realized. It’s an exquisite image. –pc

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