As photographers, we’re always trying to put a unique spin on the images we take. When you do something like walk around a city and photograph whatever catches your eye, this process can be quite easy. Not so much, however, when you’re sitting on the edge of “the bowl” with Delicate Arch on the other side, surrounded by hundreds of other photographers who have all sat in the same spots as thousands (perhaps millions) of other photographers before them. Everyone is getting (more or less) the exact same shot of the arch.So what’s the point? Why do so many people make this rather difficult hike up to one of the most photographed landmarks of any national park? Do you want to know my opinion? Well, here it is: seeing something like Delicate Arch with your own eyes is far more rewarding than seeing a thousand images of it. If you get a shot of the arch that you can be proud of; that’s the icing on the cake. The hike to Delicate Arch would have been worth it whether I got a shot of it or not. Sure the hike sucked. Sure I was really annoyed/pissed off when I took a wrong turn and ended up on the wrong side of the arch and had to walk all the way back around (nearly missing sunset because of it). Sure I was worried when one of our workshop students pulled a muscle in his leg and we had to help him limp all the way back down to the parking lot in the dark. But it was still worth it…for all of us.
Am I proud of this image? Yes. Is it unique? Yes and no. No because I’m 100% positive that countless other photographers have sat exactly where I sat and have probably the same general composition. Yes because they didn’t take the image on that day, with that light, with those clouds, with my camera or my story.
When I hear photographers saying that they avoid certain parks and landmarks because they are over-photographed; I can’t help but think of how much they are missing out on. Delicate Arch (and the bowl in front of it) is one of the most unique sandstone formations there is. If you view the image large you’ll see sand dunes in the distance. If I had shot a panoramic here that included more to the right, you’d see the Windows, the Garden of Eden and Balanced Rock off in the far distance. And yes, if I had shown more to the left you would see hundreds of photographers :-). Despite that last part, this was one of the most incredible views I’ve seen and I am so glad I got to see it with my own eyes.