This project examines the geology, flora, and large landscapes of the American West that have been shaped by the Colorado River watershed. Over centuries, rivers have shaped this landscape into seemingly endless canyons that each have their own unique qualities and characteristics. From the rarely seen black canyons, shaped by the Gunnison River to the red Navajo Sandstone, shaped by the Green, Virgin, San Juan, and the mighty Colorado itself, these forever-changing shapes are what makes the Southwest such a wonder of the world. Over the years photographing this epic landscape, my hopes are to show some of the more intimate stories of the west.
My goal of this project is to complete an artistic documentation of the Colorado River watershed as it flows through the national parks of the West. Aside from the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon, other focuses of this project will include Grand Staircase Escalante and the Escalante River, the Virgin River of Zion, the Green River of Canyonlands, and the Gunnison River of Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Your contribution will assist in the expense of photographing and travel to and from these locations.
My hopes are that these images will engage the viewer’s imaginations in ways that only fully immersing one’s self in the desert can compare. The desert is often looked at as bare, inhospitable, and grotesque, when in fact, it is full of life and beauty. While many see the large landscapes formed by these rivers, few take the time to look at the beauty at the river's edge or below the canyon rims. These are the places where the river is actively working its way through the earth, carving itself deeper, and unearthing more of the beauty of the world beneath it. While there are countless miles of river, washes, and canyons to explore, with this grant, I hope to explore and photograph as many as possible over the next year.
The images I have created as a part of this project thus far have been described as unique, and insightful. Careful compositions and the studying of light have led to careful exposures of these scenes, which I hope captures the intimacy only found in areas along these rivers. I hope these images inspire viewers to explore and find their own corner of the West, where they can witness the fantastic influence the mighty Colorado River has had.
This project emerged from years of exploring and photographing deserts. My fascination with this landscape has led me to desire a more intimate knowledge of the rivers that have shaped the land. I began exploring trails seldom traveled by photographers and seeking new places to study and call my own. The more I studied, the closer to the rivers I seemed to find myself. In my professional career, I have the ability to spend weeks in these locations and have had the opportunity to build a unique understanding of these environments. My attachment to this landscape and the fear of losing access to some of the locations due to public land sell-offs has led me to formalizing the creation of this project. While the artistic scope of the project originated as creating unique images of intimate landscapes of the western rivers, it has grown into a narrative to speak to the general public and inspire them to see the beauty and importance of the Colorado River and its tributaries.
Approach to Project:
My approach to photography has changed over the last three years since beginning this project. What started with a fast-paced DSLR, has now moved into exclusively using large format cameras. I also have began working exclusively with Fuji transparency film, which limits my dynamic range and subject choices and severely slows my workflow. Working and composing on a ground glass allows me to more easily create images based on color and form. The limitations of the equipment have also given me more of an attachment to the scenes I have worked with, as there are times where I will spend a hours or even days composing, focusing, and studying compositions.
I will complete the entire project on large format film, including all work in the backcountry and on the river. The film will be developed by a photographic lab of my choice and drum scanned at the highest resolution available for future exhibition prints. Images will be cleaned and prepped in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, and a quarterly “folio” will be released in a high quality magazine format. I will produce a fine art coffee table book, designed using Adobe software, available as limited edition copies. I will also be printing and framing an exhibition of the images, which will be available for review of several galleries throughout the country.
In addition to the photography, I am taking other steps to conserve and protect these rivers by becoming a member of the Grand Canyon Association, donating to American Rivers, and volunteering my time to write to congressmen and lawmakers regarding the scope of this project and the importance the Colorado River and its tributaries has in my life and career.
Thank you to those who have sponsored this project so far. In its early stages, it's crucial to find myself in these places as often as possible, and without your help, it couldn't have been accomplished. Thank you to the following companies who have supported me thus far:
- Arca Swiss Cameras
- F-Stop Gear
- Adobe Systems Inc.
If you would like to contribute to this project, please click the button below, where a donation amount can be selected. Your support of this project and my work means the world to me.