DISNEYLAND COMES TO THE SLOT CANYONS and OTHER CLOSE BY PLACES !

Text and images @Jack Graham unless otherwise notes… All rights Reserved

_dsf1929Yes folks,  Disneyland has come to the beautiful Canyon lands, red rock land and Navajo Country in Northern Arizona and Utah. For me I am probably done coming back here. It is not even close to being what it was like even 2-3 years ago when it began getting crowded.

I just finished leading another workshop featuring locations in and around Page, AZ, notably Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons (Slot Canyons), Horseshoe Bend, Vermillion Cliffs, Lake Powell and more.

When I first visited this beautiful area things were a lot different. Descending into Lower Antelope Canyon was done by climbing down on wooden ladders, sometimes made out of tree trunks and 2x4s. If you saw another photographer with a tripod, he or she was a really serious photographer.

I knew something was up when I found that most hotel rooms in Page AZ were sold out for my workshop in September 2016 by January 2016. Not only were they sold out but the prices have gone up about 70-100% in the past 2 to 3 years.

Hotel rooms in Page this time of year are $150.00-300.00 for a decent place. (Stay out of the Best Western Plus at Lake Powell—more about that soon!)

_dsf1948-2I arrived into Page only to find that what use to cost $85.00 per person for a two-hour photo tour in Upper Antelope Canyon last year, was now $250.00!—YES ….. $250.00 PER PERSON FOR 2 HOURS!!!!!

I include the canyon entrance fees in my pricing so if goes up I take a bath on it. No one from the Tour Company bothered to let me know about the price increase even though I made my reservations with them long before I arrived …oh well, supply and demand dictates price and the Navajos are really taking advantage of what people are willing to pay. In a casual conversation, my good friend in the tour company asked if I had reservations for Lower Antelope Canyon. Surprised, I asked “Since when did you need reservations?” He said this policy started a few months ago. AMAZING!

Parking lot–Lower Antelope    130+cars–mid morning_dsf1931

 

I had to split up my group into 3 days so everyone could get into both canyons. SO now I had to get reservations at Lower. I secured the last 14 available. I had to split up my group. There were literally no photo tour reservations available for either canyon for 4 to 5 days. I got really lucky. I had reservations for Upper but didn’t know there were reservations needed for Lower Antelope.

The Navajo who are setting limits for how many people can go into the canyon are doing a terrible job. It’s all about the money. There is literally wall to wall people in these canyons for much of the day. Remember this is September. I would not be surprised if the numbers were even larger in the summer…hard to believe but true.

_dsf1934 Lower Antelope Parking Lot

The parking lot at Lower Antelope Canyon which 5 years ago usually had 10-20 cars, now had over 200 cars around 11AM. (Along with tour buses). The one small hut, good for fitting  3-4 folks selling tickets at 35-40.00 a piece,  has now turned into 2 large (and I mean large) houses charging about 85.00 for a 2 hr. photo tour. Again the crowds make taking any quality images difficult to impossible (in both canyons).

How can you get some good images in these locations? First, go in winter. Crowds (at least for now) are much less. The light is a bit different but no better or worse. You’ll see more purples in the sandstone walls than during the summer. Who knows maybe they might even drop pricing in the winter, but the Navajos are getting really greedy so who knows. You cannot…AND I REPEAT … CAN NOT make quality images during these crowded times in the spring, summer and now fall. It’s over, unless the Navajos limit how many people they let into the canyons. I double that will happen.

_dsf1905HORSESHOE BEND: We got there for sunrise. We were there in the dark, the first group there about 1 hour and 30 min before sunrise. Soon after, the crowds came over the ridge and groups of young people showed up yelling, taking selfies, posing on the ledges and making the silence of the red rocks disappear. So much for enjoying what was once a beautiful peaceful place is now Disneyland.

_dsf1908_dsf1909fullsizerenderHere  is a real idiot at Horseshoe Bend…its 950 feet down-posing for a picture with her feet hanging over the rock !!!

I am hearing that the US Government (who owns Horseshoe Bend land. Not the Navajo Nation) is going to charge an entrance fee (or requiring a National Park Pass) to park in the lot. I bet they will do what they did at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley and put up a chain link fence. You heard it here first! That afternoon I counted 167 cars and 4 tour buses in the parking lot of Horseshoe bend….Yes cross this off the list as well.

_dsf1977-edit-edit-2Now on to beautiful Monument Valley. Both the View Hotel (150-200 rooms at 250.00 per night is filled as well as Goulding’s…(219.00 per night), more with new additional rooms…ARE ALL FILLED. Traffic in the valley is the worse ever. Footprints on the duns made by folks who  don’t care about the land make getting images at Totem Pole impossible.

We are heading to Canyon de Chelly  on Friday. It will be interesting to see how things are there. Stay tuned.

cdcsnow1To my workshop attendees who were and are here with me…I apologize for the crowds etc. Most of this is out of my control. What is in my control is whether I come back or not. I am not sure if I or any other workshop leader can deliver a quality experience to anyone in this location anymore. I’ll be monitoring this situation and if it changes I might be back. For now it’s on to other places. The Navajo’s are making lots of money ( funny most of my wonderful Navajo friends are not living any better—it’s all going to the nation , not to the people—sound familiar?)

What a shame. Disneyland is now here! —JG

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An Unexpected Email !

I just returned from almost a month in Iceland and Greenland. More on that soon! I went to bed about 10pm last night, after being up almost 24 hrs. I was at my desk early today getting ready to leave tomorrow for the southwest. I really need a Red Bull, but instead I received this email this afternoon. It made my day.

This note came from a workshop client who did a few workshops over the past few years with me and Bill Fortney. I hadn’t heard from him in about a year but jghsb2was really pleased to here from him again. He has allowed me to share it with you all.

I am traveling more than I am home. Eating ( or not eating) weird food, sleeping weird hours, driving long distances, long flights( like yesterday) scrunched up in coach etc. I am in NO WAY complaining. I am one of the luckiest people on the planet. I get to travel, experience thongs other never can imagine, see the wonders of the planet and meet some great people along the way. Can you be creative in your job? Well I get to be in mine! –how cool is that!

307938_10150353593897324_740357323_10276918_7031142_nI remember this workshop that this person was on . I know he was an above average photographer and loved his passion. In our review sessions, I was pretty tough on him. I know he could do better ( as he stated in his email below). I also remember this morning he made the image he sent along. I remember telling him that as an art show participant, this image would be a great seller for him. I also remember not taking this shot ( though I have a similar one from another angle) making sure he and other got their shot. The fog and conditions didn’t last long.

_img9194_096Anyhow, getting these kind of emails ( which come in every now and again) make all the traveling, etc. worth it. This is WHY I LOVE MY JOB, and frankly do what I do.

My advice to everyone is to slow down, enjoy the journey and in what ever you may do for a living, or just in life, try and make a difference to someone. The world would be a better place….JG

HERE IS THE EMAIL AND MY RESPONSE FROM TODAY’S EMAIL–his image is also found below.

__________________________________________________________

From: Ken  *&^&%$$   [mailto:l&^^$%0@yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2016 1:44 PM
To: Jack Graham <jack@jackgrahamphoto.com>; Bill Fortney <billfortney@earthlink.net>
Subject: Just wanted to say thanks!

Jack and Bill,

As I head into the fall season of art shows, I wanted to take a second and thank you both for my successful year.  In particular, both workshops I did with you last year helped me tremendously.

Jack was brutal on my photo reviews.  You guys laid into much of my work as ciaos or too busy, or not enough impact.  I took your advice seriously, and really took a hard look at my work.

October, I attended another workshop, and this time, I had a fresh perspective on getting in tight and simplify.  The attached image has been one of my top selling images this year because of you two.  Jack, you told me I would make a lot of money with this, and I have been very blessed by it.  On an average, I sell one of these at nearly every art show this year with an average ticket price of around 1500.00.

As I get ready to head into the Tetons this fall to shoot, I am excited to see them differently, to see them the way I learned from you.

I am also looking at doing a few more workshops with you although I still own my Nikon gear 🙂

Blessings to both of you!

Ken

________

From: jack@jackgrahamphoto.com [mailto:jack@jackgrahamphoto.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2016 3:02 PM
To: ‘  ……….’ <l(*&^&$%0@yahoo.com>
Cc: Bill Fortney (billfortney@earthlink.net) <billfortney@earthlink.net>
Subject: RE: Just wanted to say thanks!

Ken,

Thanks you so much for your very kind words. Its unexpected emails like this that make what I do worth everything to me.

Often I am asked just what I do for a living sometimes by non-photographers and sometimes even by photographers. I tell them I try to get folks to some good locations, enjoy experiences alone and together, and learn some things that might help them along their path and encourage them to become artist who happen to use a camera to define their art, not just photographers trying to be artists.

I know I can speak for Bill to say we can’t wait to have you on another workshop as well.

As always if I can help in any way please give me a call or send me an email.

Very best regards, and again thank you!

Jack

JACK GRAHAM PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography Workshops / Fine Art Prints

 Graham, Washington USA

(O) 503 . 625 . 1430 /   ( F ) 253 251 0644   /    (M)  503 . 333 . 8699

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© Ken Smith