This engagement session at Antelope Canyon had all the ingredients for a rare combination of wild and fashionable whereas the trip was one heck of a crazy adventure…
It seems to me that many dreams fulfill on their own without you even trying or thinking too hard… Such was the case with my first in the later series of trips to India to shoot Indian weddings and my journey to the childhood-dreamed Corfu, Greece where I photographed a maternity session, for example. About 8 years ago a commercial project slated for the Antelope Canyon fell through. This time I got another chance: a fashionable engagement session for one of my former colleagues of now-acquired Forest Laboratories where I worked for 11 years prior to quitting for full-time photography. And, it was wrapped into a pretty Las Vegas – Page – Grand Canyon – Phoenix 700-mile road trip!
I flew to Las Vegas with my wife who would assist me. We jumped into the rental car and immediately hit the road to Page, AZ, just glancing at the city (for some reason it fails to attract me). With a failed attempt to reach the Grand Canyon from the Northern Rim, we made it to Page late in the evening. The Georgia couple followed our steps later in the day but hasn’t arrived to their hotel until past midnight. Nonetheless, I wanted to catch the sunrise and mercilessly demanded a meetup around 5 AM. I knew Stephanie from prior years at Forest but it was nice to meet Joshua who is as much after “the effect” as his fiance. Turned out, their alternative to the engagement session at Antelope Canyon (in case the arrangements fell through) was northern lights in Greenland! :O
We had a couple of hours before the arranged private tour so we visited a few nearby rock formations. The fact is that you can shoot pretty much anywhere there! The landscape and textures are ever-captivating and offer an infinite row of opportunities. Just as I got hooked on that location, we had to leave but only greater things awaited!
The private photography tour was organized by Dixie Ellis’ Lower Antelope Canyon Tours, run and guided by Navajo people. Our guide was a very sweet and accommodating young lady whose family actually owns part of the Antelope Canyon. There isn’t much needed to be said about the location… The imagery speaks for itself. If I may add a shameless detail… she claimed that in the years of guiding photographers into the canyon, I stood out. I think it was mainly because of the fabrics I had flying around.
Since the tour had a strict time limitation, we wrapped up and went out to the Horseshoe Bend for more epic scenery and cool vibes. Now about those vibes… I came to realization that I got enough of them and wanted to simplify the things and make them fun and loose. We were in our 5th hour of shooting (locations involve some driving and even more walking), the temperature started to rise, and the endurance started to thin. Yet I pushed for the final segment and envisioned it by a body of water where they would run, splash, fall, and got all sexy. We went to one location first, it turned to be unworkable. I then spotted another option on the satellite map and thrusted forward through the fenced deserted areas, nerves tickling and adrenaline pumping to get the final killer shots.
As I wrote on my Facebook, “It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t get in trouble, especially for a good shot.” The trouble got me foot-deep in the sand on a desert road. My leading car got stuck and having no clue how soon I could get anyone to help me out (the fact that we trespassed cooled my thoughts of calling roadside assistance), I let the guys leave and return to their hotel to wash and rest. Some time later, after an incredibly lucky encounter of a sole person within miles, a failed attempt to pull us out by some cargo lifting machinery, and after a looooong shoveling and getting blisters that are still on my hand a month later, we got out. Check out behind the scene shots at the end.
I got in touch with the couple to keep shooting but they were too relaxed by that time (remember, they just had a couple of hours of sleep). Thus, this engagement session at Antelope Canyon was bound to remain purely fashion-oriented. We met the guys to bid our farewell and accept their excited thanks and headed to the Grand Canyon.
The rest of the adventure weren’t directly related to the shoot but worth a brief mentioning. After-the-shoot picnic on the ridge of the Horseshoe Bend, sleeping in a car in the desert, touring the Grand Canyon, driving 350 miles to Phoenix area to visit St. Anthony’s Monastery for the night liturgy, receiving flight cancellation notice due to the impending snowstorm in New York, living at the monastery for several more days while waiting for the rebooking, working there in obedience (and getting another set of blisters on another hand), enjoying the disconnected life, 1-4 AM services, almost making it to our dear friends’ place whom I saw in India a few weeks ago, and then finally a flight back home. What a journey!
Seems like this engagement session at Antelope Canyon is just the beginning. Their wedding will take place in Dominican Republic this summer. Moreover, a friend of Stephanie whom I also know from Forest booked me for an all-day underwater photo shoot the following day! Stay tuned.
Click images for full size. Kindly refrain from re-uploading images to social media during the first week of feature. Share instead! 🙂