Epic Southwest Photo Tour and 18-year-old Birthday Photos


Southwest photo tour – 5 Arizona locations -Antelope Slot Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and More!

When I first learned of this request to shoot over the span of two days in the best locations that the Southwest has to offer, I knew it was for me. The photography session was to include Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Bryce National Park, Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon, the most amazing places to visit in the Grand Circle. I was elated but it was also a daunting task. This may locations is hard to plan for and being a natural light photographer, I needed to design an itinerary arriving to as many of the key locations at either sunrise or sunset.

The purpose of the photos were to celebrate an 18 year old’s birthday so we made it a southwest photo tour. It was a special occasion and seeing what they had in mind,  I knew that it was really important to get these photos right. Although our subject has taken many brilliant portraits before, she was not a model by trade or experience and with the grand-scale in costuming and itinerary we had to be sure to get the shots right from the start. This kind of a photo can either look fierce or amateur and we were so lucky to end up with such fierce strong images.

We met before sunrise at El Tovar and they followed me toward our first destination. We started a little later than planned and headed for Lipan Point, when I saw the first rays of sunlight hit us before we were at the destination I’d planned for, we made a last minute adjustment to Moran Point instead. We just missed the pink clouds, that only happen for a minute and got some great photos of Nicole in the white dress. Next we took some at Lipan in a blue gown, the light was a little harsher here and we quickly moved on from Grand Canyon to Horseshoe Bend as part of our southwest photo tour.

At Horseshoe Bend, we had two outfits and the sun was a little harsh but a nice  cloud made it’s way in front of the sun which really helped the images. We had a really hard time finding a location where we could get the entire bend in as well as a human figure, our model. We spent a lot of time trying to achieve this shot and there were many visitors close to the edge making it difficult to get the shots but we did. I found a lot of places to get in very large sections of the river. It was quite a challenge to try to get the entire bend at Horseshoe bend but I am still really happy with my shots and with how much of the river I was able to get in the shot with a person as the focal point.

I thought that my itinerary would leave a lot of time to relax in the hotel in Page Arizona before  moving on to another location for sunset but by the time we arrived at the hotel we really needed to be out again finding the next location. The family was so nice and ordered some steaks for us and we ate in our separate rooms and tried to relax in the minimal time that we had. We had all been up since before sunrise and some of us earlier for hair and makeup and were completely exhausted.

We went out for sunset at the Wahweap marina and got some am amazing shots in another incredible dress. We shot in a few locations that we found by Lake Powell in Page and were pretty spontaneous about how we went about taking this sunset set of photos. The weather took a turn for the worst and it was now forecasted to be 100% snow at Bryce Canyon National Park so we elected not to go. We talked about some locations for a sunrise shoot but the family was exhausted and ultimately decided to sleep in the following day and play additional pictures by ear. The next morning the weather looked worse and the wind was insanity. We went out around 10:30 to try to take some photos at a toadstool formation in the Page area but after walking out to it, decided against it. We all got a free sand facial. We thought about calling it quits with the weather.

We decided to shoot in one last location for our southwest photo tour, Antelope Canyon. Upper Antelope Canyon is the only location that offers a photography tour. No lighting is allowed and the photography tour will hold back crowds in order to take longer exposures with the use of a tripod. Antelope Slot Canyon is always dark and I was nervous about the sky being overcast already but we booked a private photo tour for the 5 of us and planned on it anyway. It was certainly a challenge but our guide Nate was excellent and he helped us find the best nooks that offered the best light. It was an amazing experience so much that now I would love to offer a southwest portrait package with a mix of different locations.




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