From downtown in Moab on the way to Arches, turn right just before the bridge and head north on Rt 128. This heads you up a canyon close to the Colorado River and eventually, a couple of hours later, to Interstate 70. From there drive west and meet up with the main drag back to Moab at RT 191. Total time: maybe six hours, more if you stop often. What a trip.
Of course, the dilemma is what do you do if you are an artist that uses a camera? Succumb to the beauty and the temptation to photograph this glorious scenery? Part of the trap is to "acquire" pictures as proof that you were there or perhaps to share with those back home. I am as guilty of this as anyone else, yet it isn't quite what I do, is it? But it all is incredibly seductive, and this trip up the canyon is among the most seductive I have ever seen.
Will I use these? Will they end up as framed prints in a show somewhere? Not likely, for they don't do anything or say much besides where I was and it was very beautiful there. Of course, you might think that is enough. To chronicle the place, to document something so exquisite as lit up Aspen trees in autumn, all gold and shimmering in late afternoon sunlight.
Of course, if you practice photography to a larger stage than just yourself, your family and friends, this then does become a dilemma. What are you known for? And what contribution do pictures like this make to your overall body of work? Real artists don't make pictures like this, or perhaps it is safer to say, a certain kind of artist makes pictures like these.
I used to deal with this problem when teaching in Italy in Venice. I would tell students in the first class that they had the next couple of days to make all the pretty touristy pictures they wanted but after that I didn't want to see them. Once done, then I would assign them to work in very specific ways, to search to tell a story, to make pictures as an investigation into something that caught their interest, to begin to make pictures that were specific and intentional instead of ubiquitous and generic.
Last, what if you feel you can make pictures like these from the drive up the canyon that are better than anyone else's? What if you know you can make a contribution to this way of seeing that is unique, has your own perception as a creative individual and is motivated by your passion, commitment and hard work as well as the considerable cost of the gear you use to make pictures that are truly magnificent? Then by all means have at it but know the world is a competitive place and count me among the skeptics.
Programming note: Bringing you this blog every day is a lot of work. I get up early to work on it for a couple of hours before heading out to shoot. I am happy to do it as I know I would love to travel vicariously with someone who was making pictures daily in Moab. But, let me know you're along for the ride, if you can. There are lots of ways to share your thoughts with me. Put a comment on my Facebook page or on Instagram. Or shoot me an email: here.
And thanks for coming along.