After 29 years of calling Phoenix home, I am leaving the Valley of the Sun. Why? That has been a common question as many people have been quite surprised. While some may think it is a rash decision, it has actually been on my mind for quite a while. And when the universe starts to line up, you just go with it! Besides, it’s not really goodbye, it’s see you next time, as my dad use to say to me.
Over 10 years ago during one of the first photography workshops through Arizona Highways Photo Workshops, J. Peter Mortimer stated you have to be passionate about what you are photographing. Arizona is known to be a photographer’s playground, so why would I choose to leave? This past spring I applied to be a Volunteer Trip Leader through Arizona Highways Photo Workshops and started the interview process. After the first interview, I thought long and hard about this amazing opportunity. I have met so many wonderful people through this organization with the opportunity to meet more, including some well-known photographers. Again, why leave you are asking?
I’m leaving because as much as I have tried to be passionate about the desert, my heart is not here. Where am I headed? To the Midwest, the Heartland of the U.S. and my home state of Iowa. Back to the prairie.
Iowa you ask? Isn’t it just cornfields? No, Iowa has more to offer than cornfields. Are you ready for snow after living in the desert? Another popular question, and yes ready for four distinct seasons, including snow in winter. Doesn’t Arizona have four seasons including snow in northern Arizona and in the White Mountains? Yes, but they aren’t outside my back door. But you are so passionate about wildflowers, some say. Yes, but Iowa has wildflowers too. And I know a place or two in Arizona to photograph wildflowers should the opportunity arise to come back during wildflower season. Have I made some beautiful images here in the desert? I have received many compliments of my images here in Arizona. Unfortunately, I do not have an emotional attachment to them. Something that is key in photography.
My mind is full with visions of macro shots of snow and ice, black and white images of rural scenes with snow. Rural scenes galore to be seen and images made. My mind is full thanks in part to Peter Carroll, a Canadian photographer, that I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago.
Peter had participated in a photography exchange with the organization Through Each Others Eyes and one of the Arizona photographers was Colleen Miniuk-Sperry whom I have had as an instructor through Arizona Highways Photo Workshops (you can follow their blog here). I went to the opening of the exhibit between the Phoenix photographers and the photographers from Alberta, Canada. Admiring all of the images, I came across one by Peter and told Colleen, “I have photographed that same guy”. She immediately introduced me to Peter and I told him the story about the day I photographed the same guy. Since then, I have followed Peter’s work and found it to be so inspiring and constantly tugging at my heartstrings to be back in the Midwest on the prairie every time I see one of his images of rural Canada.
So, with much thought, I am headed back to the prairie. High on my bucket list is wildflowers on the prairie, but not just any wildflowers. There are only a few areas of the prairie that have never been touched, and those are the part of the prairie I want to experience. Do I know where they can be found? Yes. I have been reading Iowa Outdoors for the last few years and have kept all of the issues. They are valuable research. If you look close in the image below, you will see several issues and not one cover is a photo of cornfields.
Surprised by what you are seeing? I hope so and hope you continue to follow me on my journey of photography from the Southwest to the Midwest!