A large grove of Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park is backlit by the warm glow of the setting sun. This is an image from a day I spent in the park making photographs with David Muench. A very memorable day to say the least!
It was a Friday afternoon at 4pm when I got a voicemail on my phone from Kevin at the Joshua Tree National Park Foundation. He said they had a last minute opening in a small workshop David Muench was holding in the park on Saturday, and that if I wanted the slot, it was mine. But I had to decide immediately.
David Muench and Ansel Adams are essentially on the same level. They are both world-famous grandmasters of the craft of fine art landscape photography, and both will go down in history for changing the world through their work. So the chance to spend an entire day making images in the desert with one of my all-time heroes was something I'd be insane to pass up. David was the one who first popularized the near-far composition technique that we all know and use in landscape photography. Crazy! He has world-wide influence. He's even politically active in getting precious natural places preserved as National Parks and Monuments. Inspirational.
So I jumped on it. After only 3 hours of sleep, I was driving the 2 hours out to the park, leaving by 3:30 am to meet up at the visitor center by 5:30 am in time for sunrise in the park.
We spent the entire day alternating between exploring the desert looking for compositions, and breaks where we had open forums, image reviews, critiques, and classes.
The best part of the day by far was the fact that several times throughout the day, I was able to talk one on one with David and swap adventure and photography stories, and talk about our favorite locations. A few of my images are my own re-imagined takes on images he made decades ago, and he was surprised that I had managed to find some of the more secluded and unknown locations. He was happy to know I hadn't shared directions to them with anyone!
Before the end of the day, I was able to show him a bunch of my work, and get some pointed feedback. Amazingly, he really liked all the images, and only had extremely minor suggestions on processing tweaks with regards to evening out dodging and burning on a couple of images.
The Anza-Borrego slot canyon images were the biggest hit by far. He liked them so much that he said about 6-8 times that I should really pursue solo exhibitions of the collection at some galleries and shows around Southern California, and also submit the images to several magazines, because to quote, "These are really original. No one else is doing this stuff!"
He also signed two of his photo books that I have with personal notes on the title pages. He has been the principal photographer for over 50 of them, along with countless magazine covers and articles celebrating his work.
All in all, a spectacular day, and the last minute opportunity was something that I was blessed with, and am super grateful to God for.