Into the Valley
Most photographers I know (or artists in general) all have their one favorite piece of work they have created. A piece that represents best what they constantly strive to make. A defining moment in their own history when everything came together and fell harmoniously into place. This shot is that for me. It's probably not the best shot I have ever taken, I’m not sure that I have ever taken a truly great photo, but it's special to me for many reasons.
Well over a decade ago when this was taken, I was spending yet another summer in Glacier National Park. This area is an eden for landscape photographers. The place is truly breathtaking. But this breathtaking beauty means it's photographed a lot. So having found this unique composition that I had not seen photographed, to my knowledge, was an exciting moment for me as a fairly new photographer.
I spent the next 4 evenings sitting atop this waterfall, soaking my my man-bits in the cold snowmelt that feeds it. I’m sure this insanely cold waterfall has rendered me sterile. Natures vasectomy maybe? But finally on the last night the light I was dying for happened. But for me, it's not the gorgeous light that stands out in my mind when recalling this evening. It's the place, the solitude I had that evening with nobody around me, the excitement of having longhorn sheep walk right up to me for a couple sniffs (I hadn't showered for probably 9 days), and knowing that I was going to create something that would be really special to me.
It's those things that make this shot my favorite I’ve ever made... even more than a decade and tens of thousand of photos later. Everything just fell into place. The comp, the light, the moment as a whole... and now the memories. I think as artists we relate to our work in a different way than any viewer of our creations ever could. We have memories and special experiences tied to our images. We can recall the setting, the weather, the smell of rain in the air, and even whatever we might have been going through personally at the time. No viewer will ever be able to resonate the same way with our work. This might be why some of my favorite photos I’ve ever made are not ones that seem to be popular to an audience. I’m able to love the photos for the memories tied to them and overlook any technical mistakes.
So anyway, here it is. My favorite photo I have ever taken featuring Lewis Range peaks Reynolds Mountain, Mount Oberlin, and Mount Cannon. In a large version of this image, you can also see part of the 600ft Bird Woman Falls in between the distant peaks as well as tall stands of Beargrass blooming in the meadows to the right.