It seems as though there should be a contract drawn up between photographers and some governing entity. If you consider yourself even casually interested in photography you are contractually obligated to photograph Antelope Canyon, and then you have to try to sell the prints in a place like a Denny’s restaurant gallery somewhere in maybe eastern Oklahoma or something. If Antelope isn’t the most photographed place on this planet I don’t know what might be. It’s gotta be right up there with the Lincoln Memorial on the fourth of July.
All that being said, I took the bait a long time ago, and it wasn’t until recently that I actually got a chance to go. I swear to God I’m not including these images because I think I broke any new ground here. I’m including them because it said I had to do it in the contract I signed when I decided I was a photographer.
I mean I really bought the ticket and took the ride on this place. Regardless of the Disneylandish moniker that goes with it, Antelope is like nothing else. I think I heard some kind of story describing the white guy photographers who either found or were lead by the Navajo to this slot canyon they call Tsé bighánílíní – The place where water runs through rocks (Navaho Sandstone in nortern Arizona). I don’t know who those guys were who first put a tripod down in this spot somewhere around 1970 I guess, but I’m hoping they were stoned when they did it. To this day it’s visually in another zip code from where you and I live. Call it deep space and you’ll be close enough. Navajo sandstone and water are meant for one another, so I really wanted to go and just stare at it, and for me, that required me to shoot a few images. Looking at sandstone that has had water running around and through it for thousands of years is one of the best things in the world to do in spite of all the marketing that's been going on at Antelope.God bless any American Indian who has figured out a way to make white men pay for what our forefathers did to Indian culture. What the Navajo are doing at Antelope and Monument Valley is bizarre for sure, but for the record, we deserve every bit of it. So Deborah and I bought tickets for the tour. I don’t know, something like $10,000 per ticket. I forget now. They told us the ideal time to get there and the ideal bus to take to the site, so we could get an extra special moment with the canyon. However, they left out the part where they told exactly the same thing to another 50 Greyhound sized buss loads of German, Italian, American, and Japanese amature photographer tourists as well. Crazy Horse didn’t fool Custer any better than these guys fooled me. I rode blissfully straight into The Little Big Horn of nature photography.
So these are some of my images from the trip. I put them here because this is my web site, and I don’t care if everyone else has them on their web site, and because in spite of everything, Antelope remains what it is. It’s truly one of God’s chosen spots. But as you look at these shots and possibly ponder your own trip, keep in mind that in most cases, like these shots, the view here is up. That view remains unchanged and changing since they made this place a billion years ago. If you tilt that camera down another ten degrees, you’d see about a hundred other tripod’s all pointed up at the same scene. A few more degrees down and you’d see people fighting with one another to get a space and screaming "Screw you, I'm the real artist here" in multiple languages. That’s the nature of many versions of paradise these days. The price tag can be steep for any number of reasons. You gotta look up all the time or you’re asking to be disappointed. It's simply a matter of mentally keeping it between yourself and what you came here for. Keep looking straight up 100 feet through sandstone carved by water, and there's nothing even close to it. Just you and all this gorgeous stuff you've never seen before.