I must admit that the prospect of photographing Antelope Canyon was not something I was particularly looking forward to. I wanted to see it and explore it … enjoy it from a geological perspective. But to photograph it? It’s a bit like photographing the Magic Kingdom at Disney World — it’s been done — millions of times — by virtually everyone on the planet.
The serene, almost spritual images of Antelope Canyon which abound everywhere you care to look, belie the utter chaos one actually finds upon arrival at the opening to this beautifully carved channel.
Though you can’t see them, people are everywhere, hiding behind rocks and eagerly waiting for you to finish with your photo so they can move on to get their own.
As most people know, the sand falling in the shaft of light is not a natural phenomenon, rather it’s something the native American guides have taken to doing for photographers (namely tossing sand into the light shaft) in order to make photographs more interesting as-well-as emphasize the 3D nature of the lighting within the canyon.
Although the canyon teems with other photographers photographing the exact same thing, and although there are group after group of them going in opposite directions, the native American families who own these canyons and who lead toursists through them do a wonderful job of making this beautiful canyon available to an enormous amount of people.
And though I’m naturally a bit jaded when it comes to being the 148th million person to take a photograph of something, I still find myself very glad to have this image. Not because it’s in any way unique, but because it’s fun to look at and imagine the canyon in peace – void of people. I like to think about the years of erosion that caused this beautiful place to exist and how rare something like this actually is.
It’s good for me to slow down and appreciate the beauty of Antelope Canyon. It’s a gift. And the reason so many people go there is because it’s a wonderful gift.