I tend to be easily overwhelmed in a new location, especially a spectacular one. The sense of wanting to match the beautiful work I may have seen of the area is powerful but unwise. Often those great images are a result of hard work, research, patience, knowing the area and subject extremely well and in some cases even many visits. It is also very easy to feel suddenly artistically lost in a grand and new place of such scale and photographic opportunity. I think this can be a result of knowing your own capability and raised expectation but faced with so much choice I feel a self-imposed burden to create. I have to calm my excitement and bring it back to the joy of the process. This takes away the panic or worry of not making the most of a visit. Instead my strategy is to plan and visualise three or four images I would most like to achieve (as a starting point) when visiting a new location, I find this facilitates my creativity rather than blindly replicating others. This leaves me with just a few details I must care about and the rest can happen as and when I am moved by a scene or moment. On arriving in big sky country, I was somewhat (surprisingly) stunned by the big sky. Of course, the clue is the name but wow I was not prepared, that sky and the quality of the light is like none I’ve seen before (that can be so easily predicted). Almost every night there is a treat in store. Although it was not on my list it certainly had my glass pointing skyward most evenings with many pleasing results with barely any effort.
My primary intent was to photograph cattle. For me it is people, wildlife, fauna, flora and also captive animals (in this case livestock, pets, working dogs and horses) that give a place personality, a sense of identity and tradition bonded to history. A location is far more than a landscape, beasts and boulders. I always strive to capture something of the mood, moment and emotion when I visit any new (to me) part or the world. In Montana it is not just the sky that is big, the mountains, the ranches, the wildlife and parks, the cowboys, cowgirls personalities and the way of life that is all rather grand scale. The history is also rich, not long but rich and diverse from the gold rush, homestead settlers, ranches and native Indians all living in and from this amazing landscape. Impressively the landscape was respected very early in its history, it gave everything to the Indians and they knew it and recognised the need to allow time for areas to replenish, something people in many parts of the world today are still in denial of. In 1872 Yellowstone (which just slightly tips into Montana) was declared not only the first National Park in the USA but the entire world, so stick that in your pipe European history snobs.
I doff my cap to US Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant for this action and in doing so decreed that the area would be preserved "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” I possibly have an odd sense of places, I think of the land, its history, then the decay and the way of life both in the past and the present which gives me a strange sense or concept of all the parts becoming a whole, almost as if an entity with its own heart beat that I am privileged to briefly witness and be among. Photography is just the medium I use to creatively record my response to this emotion, my own personal awareness or indeed madness, but it is a burning need to reflect the emotion and response back through some form of creativity. I personally think this is a normal human state but can accept any view on it. I do however think that cave walls back me up in confirming humans have always had a response to create, reflect and communicate creatively our experiences and emotions. It intrigues me to attempt to capture the beating whole of a location through little details close to my glass. This is when I’m most excited and alive.
Decay and life are both relentless, the pursuit of my first wish list shot led me to a beautifully scented wild rose growing around and caressing a decayed and abandoned headstone. I imagined there was once a ceremony for a now long forgotten gold miner. This scene intrigued me, long abandoned but still respectfully marked as Boulder Cemetery was a feast of decay and life and with the bonus of overnight rain having gently saturated the scene. I photographed the wild rose and the result pleased me.