Goodbye Phoenix


Sunset from atop South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona

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?


Sunset from atop South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona

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!



Iowa Outdoors – valuable photography research

20 thoughts on “Goodbye Phoenix

      1. tbeckerphotos Post author

        Well, with the forecast for rain this fall and winter, it could be an amazing wildflower season next year! That will certainly pull at my heartstrings to be in the desert!

    1. tbeckerphotos Post author

      Thank you Karen! You know this decision has been in the works for a while. Trying to get everything under control here with packing and all of the logistics for this big move!

  1. Peter Carroll

    Hey Tamara! Colleen sent me a message about your move and a link to this blog post. I’m so happy for you and thrilled to hear you are following your heart!! When all is said and done people regret the things they didn’t do more than the things they did. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and if your heart is telling you to do this then bravo for you for listening and having the courage to act on it. I am touched that my work had a small part to play in your decision. It made my day when I read “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.” It’s mighty special to hear that my work touched you in that way.

    I have a little story for you about the image of Jim that caused us to connect at the AZ exhibit. When I give photography presentations my photograph of Jim is part of a set of slides titled “Get outside your comfort zone… That’s where the magic happens”. When Colleen pulled me across the street in Jerome to photograph Jim I was totally outside my comfort zone. I didn’t photograph people. I just didn’t. The process of meeting Jim and photographing him changed all that. I changed as a photographer that day. It’s not like after the experience with Jim photographing people was no big deal any more to me. It’s still a personal challenge but now people photography is a part of my business and just a few days ago I returned from Toronto where I teamed up with another photographer to teach a portrait lighting essentials workshop! If you had told me that back on the streets of Jerome I would have told you that you were out of your mind. The magic happens outside our comfort zone 😉

    Good for you Tamara! All the best with the move and good on ya for following your heart. Life’s too short not to.



    1. tbeckerphotos Post author

      Thank you Pete! This just made my day as I have been wondering if I was truly making the right decision. It’s getting tough saying goodbye to friends and neighbors.

      You are correct that there is no guarantee about tomorrow. Life is way to short to not live it to the fullest. I learned that lesson a long time ago.

      So many differences on the prairie compared to the desert. The light, the flora and fauna, but one thing in common is the openness. It will be a good challenge for me to bring all I have learned in Arizona to Iowa and see what I can do there.

      And I’m sure my family thanks you profusely!


  2. solarbeez

    Okay, I see on this post why you’re moving. When you’re shooting wild flowers on the prairies, try to get some shots of bees on them just for me. 🙂 Thanks.

  3. Carrie

    Thanks Tamara, for the link to this post. I loved reading about your inspiration for moving and couldn’t agree more with the idea that when things line up, universally, you can’t deny it. It takes some tangible momentum to make a shift like this, good on you for recognizing it and jumping!
    Our family did the same recently, we are so happy we made the move! We are now in very northern California, think coastal redwoods not San Francisco. What a jump it was! But, after a year and a little more we are settled in and it was worth every moment of unrest.
    You may follow her already but I admire the work of SunEarthSky Sharon Knight), all midwest photography in its simplicity and beauty. The light she captures is lovely, I thought you might enjoy her work as well. I think she is quite possibly in Iowa as well.
    I hope the transition has been simple and inspiring. Looking forward to seeing your new views through your lens. Enjoy!

    1. tbeckerphotos Post author

      It has certainly been a big transition from the desert southwest back to the midwest. The physical move was quite the adventure in itself. We have almost all the boxes unpacked and are getting ready for winter.

      A new neighbor gave me seeds for marigolds for my garden next year along with zinnias and cosmos. I also gathered several wildflower seeds from my aunt and uncle’s farm. In addition I transplanted lily of the valley that my mom had planted probably 50 years ago! My yard may look like a hodgepodge next year or nothing at all, but it will certainly be fun to watch and see what happens. Along with flowers I planted garlic and shallots and hope they do well.

      It’s interesting to hear that you and your family made a big life change as well. More and more people are realizing what is important to them with many following their hearts.

      Thank you for following and hope to see you around!


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