On the Road Again - National Parks

by - Monday, August 22, 2016

American’s Grandest Adventure: After two seasons of epic photography in America’s National Parks for our fall books, these trips have become a Sundance tradition. This year is the centennial anniversary of these parks–travel to The Grand Canyon makes complete sense. It is America’s 15th oldest park, and a runner-up to the Great Smoky Mountains as the top destination park in the country. In 2015, 5.5 million people came to experience the natural grandeur. Selfishly, I have always wanted to see for myself. Here we go.

Rolling Down the River: A trip to the Grand Canyon really isn’t complete without time ON the Colorado River. At first it seemed like an overwhelming task. Can we navigate the logistics of a rafting trip with a crew and our model (does she know how to swim)? The primary objective: take photographs ...of our clothing ...on boats ...floating on a river. The day was an overwhelming success, and an extraordinary experience for all. We couldn’t have done it without our guides from Colorado River Discovery. Plus, a photographer who had been down this road (river) before.

Preparation for our cover

Shooting from the chase boat

It Takes a (Floating) Village: 278 miles. Two pontoons. One chase boat. One dory (not to be confused with “Finding Dory,” the dory is a small wooden boat). We certainly didn’t see everything there is to see, and we were very lucky with the warm and sunny skies. The frigid water didn’t allow anyone to entertain thoughts of diving in for a dip (our model definitely can swim, but could hardly put her feet in for more than a few seconds).

Carl, a park ranger who was assigned to help us

A man and his mule on the mesa–look for them on one of our Fall covers

The Real McCoy: During our shoots, I try to remember one word: Authentic. Do our models/locations/sets/props look authentic? Sundance is an authentic brand, of course it makes sense to hold everything to that standard. The people who work for, and in, our national parks are truly wonderful. Full of pertinent information and awesome stories. An authentic, national treasure. 

A scouting shot

Shooting in the Canyon

Bucket List: When you make the journey to the Grand Canyon (notice “when,” not “if”) make sure you schedule a trip to one of the slot canyons. After experiencing them firsthand, I really don’t believe that a photograph (no matter how fabulous) could match the experience of actually being there. There are several, and they are mind-bending. Enough said.

Fruits of our Labor: The results might look effortless, but I have to give my team a shout-out here. One example of what it takes to make an image. The location (above) was gorgeous. However, during our last day of shooting (when there is NO margin for error) we stayed there as long as we possibly could. Racing to get the shots as an impending electrical storm rolled in overhead. The long hours, the enormous amount of preparation, dedication, experience and talent all amount to photography we are proud to call Sundance.

Ship Ahoy: Our Grandest Adventure. Such an amazing place, amazing results. We will be back.

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