Somewhere Over America
Sitting in a plane, skimming over the cloud cover at 37,000 ft, with no idea where we are. I know, commonplace, every day.
My whole day felt like that as we left Boston in the dark in heavy rain.
We landed at Salt Lake in bright sun and clean crisp air. I picked up my rental and drove south to Moab, both on four lane highways and then on two lane roads through what seemed like endless dessert, vast expanses of sand, rock, sky and nothing else. A reminder that we are a very big country with very large unoccupied spaces. Of course, I felt very small. These places shift our perspectives, alter our sense of our own importance and reorder us.
As the day wore on, the light slowly went from midday flat and bright to warmer and richer.
I stopped a couple of times, shifting roles from being a traveler to being a photographer, done so many times now over my career. Getting the tripod out of what had been my checked luggage, unpacking a camera, looking through it and clicking a shutter, for what time? The millionth? Who knows?
Forgive the analogy, as I write this from my motel room in Moab the next morning, what is the ammunition we use to empower our pictures with something more than just fact or some appearance of fact? What do we have that imbues any of our work with substance and weight? Is this just process and a discipline based on experience? Familiarity with procedure and a reasonable knowledge of what others have done and do?
I am not unaware that landscape photographs are fraught with peril in 2018 and have discussed this in many contexts over the years. Defined as irrelevant, predictable, over done and past it. Best not to dwell on what others make when making art. At a minimum you will have your truth if you speak with your own voice.
My proclivities tend to go towards things in decay, atrophied, in decline or thrown out these days. A characteristic of my age, perhaps. But also of my experience. As we butt up against midterm elections and a government increasingly dysfunctional and mean spirited we all are faced with the choices we make.
A few miles south of Provo I came across an area that had burned
earlier in the year. This brought me back to the firestorm damage I photographed last winter in California.
Stay with me as I make this trip to Utah to photograph.