The Whole Dam Story

Visual overload, it happens to many photographers. You arrive at a location and there are so many images you do not know where  to start. It makes you freeze up, you don’t know where to begin.

One day while talking to an older photographer about this he gave me an idea of how to break this overload. He said, “the first image that catches your eye is where you start, that will break the block.” 

I had the chance to test this recently on a trip to the Hoover Dam. First let me say that I have always been fascinated with the Hoover Dam from both the technical marvel that it is and the creative visual elements of this massive man made straight edge smooth surface monster in the middle of a spectacular canyon shaped by nature’s irregular twists and turns. As I began walking from the car to the Dam I could feel the excitement building. All of these photographs that I wanted to make filled my head. By the time I reached the Dam I was in full visual overload. I stopped and scanned the area in front of me looking for the first element to catch my eye. There it was, a small area where the smooth concrete edge of the Dam met the rough edge of the canyon wall. At first I rejected this image, how could this seemingly insignificant area catch my eye. I began to look for another image, but could not find one I was in visual overload. As I scanned I kept looking back at that first spot. How could this be the first image I would make of the Hoover Dam. It could have been photographed anywhere. I was feeling so compelled to photograph it that I finally did. After shooting several different angles of it the visual overload was gone and I began to make many photographs of the Dam.

In the creative process sometimes you have to follow what your eye’s see and not what your brain says.

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