I Am Alive!

I am alive!

Like many photographers, I giddily anticipate the arrival of spring wildflowers every year. More so than in any other place, wildflowers in the arid desert is a truly magical sight to behold. Extraordinarily beautiful, terrifically ephemeral, and entirely without any guarantees that the next spring will deliver the same (or even close). In my case, “the chase” is critically more important than the actual photographs I make. The chase affirms my sanity and confirms my minuscule role in this amazing web we call life. Desert wildflowers have taken thousands of years to develop their punctual annual program, and I am in as much awe of this evolutionary process as I am the results.

The biology and geology of the places I explore are truly amazing, and truth is, the still photograph is usually an entirely insufficient device to sharing these special moments and experiences. The technicals of making good photographs is boringly easy when compared to conveying my deeply personal and passionate feelings for these places. To be sure, the hardest part of my art is not access, organization, or sales; it’s creating images that emote those distinct and unique feelings. How do you transmit through photographs your tears of joy over the stunning moment and place before you? It’s never easy, and I often submit, put away the camera, and enjoy that special moment without any distractions.

The attached photograph is from a few mornings ago; sunrise over Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s Borrego Badlands. That’s my good friend Johnny enjoying a sweet little backlit patch of Arizona Lupine (Lupinus arizonicus) on a steep and exposed ridge. The large format photographs I had planned for this morning didn’t quite work out, yet this photograph more than makes up for any lost opportunities during my travels. This image does not remind me of the noxious spread of Sahara Mustard across Anza-Borrego; it does not remind me of the blowing wind that prevented a few photographs; nor does it remind me of the uncomfortable-at-times heat: it only reminds me of how sweet it is to be alive, to have all my senses, and to watch a new day dawn over an ephemeral wildflower desert landscape. No photograph can ever rival the beauty of life and these kinds of intimate experiences.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.

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9 thoughts on “I Am Alive!

  1. Woof! Great post. There is a special joy that marks us internally as we ‘bear witness’ to a singular and ephemeral moment. When we capture that in a still image we can share with others, bringing that moment forth externally is just ‘icing on the cake’.

  2. What fascinating terrain! All I’ve ever heard about Anza-Borrego is its wildflowers, and the associated photos are usually too intimate to get a sense of the area. However, I love the terrain.

  3. THANKS for the comments, gentlemen!

    Ron: Anza-Borrego is somewhat photographically under-represented (although I guess you could say this about many places). It’s the largest State Park in the lower 48, with elevation extremes from 150′ ASL to more than 6000′ ASL. There are palm oases, deep canyons, wide valleys, undulating badlands, waterfalls, slot canyons, rugged summits, vast and open vistas, bighorn sheep, desert iguanas, rattlesnakes, tarantulas: you name it! Most of it is unknown except to the adventurous explorer, and most photographers who do come only come when the flowers are bursting.

    Next spring I will probably offer a grand photographic tour of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park; there are many days worth of photographic opportunities. I have been exploring this park for years and still feel that I’ve only scratched the surface.

  4. Excellent post Michael! While residing in San Diego county, my wife and I frequently visited Anza-Borrego. The quiet beauty is inspiring and refreshing. Truly worth the trip.

  5. What a wonderful and moving post, Michael! Most everything we do in life is in anticipation of such moments, and they are the ones that stay with us when most everything else is forgotten.


  6. Michael, your passion for photography mirrors mine. It’s life-changing, and nothing compares to those moments like you describe. Thank you for such a moving post. I totally get it.

    Your work is beautiful!

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