In the fall of 2012 I was hiking the West Fork Trail in Oak Creek Canyon just north of Sedona, Arizona photographing fall color. It is the most popular trail in the state and during the fall, a premier location to see all the yellow, orange and red leaves.
As I was hiking and photographing the fall color, there were a couple of pro photographers that I kept “running into”. I heard one of them complaining about how that shot had been done 500 times and that shot had been done 500 times and so on. I kept trying to move faster along the trail to get away from this negative attitude. I wanted to say, maybe 500 times before, but not 500 times today with this light and this color. I chose to keep quiet and continued moving along.
Later that afternoon as I was hiking back to the trailhead, there were three young gentlemen hiking and one was smoking a cigarette. At first I thought it was a bit of an oxymoron, hiking in this beautiful forest and smoking. My next thought was that the cigarette could start a fire so easily and this could all be gone.
At the time I was reading InGenius by Tina Seelig and trying to come up with six words that described my life. I had left the corporate world several months before and was exploring my creative side and spending as much time as possible photographing nature not knowing where my life was headed. I just knew that I wanted to spend time doing photography and would just let life happen. Six words came to mind after the above encounters, what if there is no more. At the time that was kind of how I was living my life. I didn’t want to wait until retirement age to explore my creative side, besides, what if I don’t live that long? But that’s a whole other story.
Tonight there is a fire burning out of control in Oak Creek Canyon just north of Slide Rock State Park and just south of the West Fork Trail. As of the 10 p.m. news, about 500 acres have burned and growing with 0% containment and winds gusting to 30 mph. One of the most beautiful areas in the state could be gone. People have been evacuated from their homes and campsites. I was actually planning on driving up there early next week to photograph the wildflowers along the trail. I highly doubt that will happen. While listening to the news I was reminded of the two encounters along the West Fork Trail back in the fall of 2012 and those six words, what if there is no more. The forest could be gone and would take years for new growth. So all those photos that have been made 500 times, let’s hope that they can be taken another 500 times or even a million times!
So no matter how many times an area has been photographed, make your own image. Every day the light will be different giving you the opportunity to make your own image and tell your own story. It doesn’t matter how many times that iconic or classic shot has been taken or what camera you are using.
When I started this blog in June 2013 I was trying to think of a title. And the title was almost “What If There Is No More?”
For now, I leave you with a gallery of images made along the West Fork Trail. You can click on each image to see a larger version.