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“Into the Great White Sands” on Kickstarter

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I am drawn to the beauty of White Sands National Monument, and I find myself returning over and over to make photographs of that magnificent landscape. I’m now working on a book that will share the beauty of this unique place and I humbly ask for your assistance in making this dream a reality. Please support my Kickstarter project “Into The Great White Sands” and preserve the sands in a way that can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Check it out:  Into the Great White Sands Kickstarter project

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Christmas in Santa Fe

Obelisk, Santa Fe Plaza, Christmas, Santa Fe, New Mexico 2015 Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

Obelisk, Santa Fe Plaza, Christmas, Santa Fe, New Mexico 2015   Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

The historic Santa Fe plaza is located in the heart of the city and during the holiday season it is aglow with lights of many colors strung on every tree and post, sparkling and glowing against the night sky. An obelisk, a reminder of another time is the gathering place for all who visit. And under a robe of snow, New Mexico looks in a word . . . Christmasy.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Joyous Kwanza to you and yours.

 

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Cottonwood No. 6: Victor’s Tree

Cottonwood No. 6, Autumn, Nr. Santa Fe, New Mexico 2014. Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

Cottonwood No. 6: Victor’s Cottonwoods,  Autumn, Nr. Santa Fe, New Mexico 2014

Every Autumn, for almost thirty years now, I have made a pilgrimage to this grove of Cottonwood trees just outside of Santa Fe to check up on them. I like knowing that they are doing well. I think they look particularly beautiful at this time of year when their leaves change from the green of summer to the beautiful vibrant yellow of autumn. It is an amazing thing to behold.

Every time I visit I make their portrait with my camera. A few of my pictures have come out particularly well and become part of a portfolio—a kind of extended portrait collection of sorts. Others are simply pictures I made to mark the occasion of my visit. The color photograph above came out exceptionally well. I call it Cottonwood No. 6, the number referring to the sixth image in this portfolio of photographs. In 1996 I began naming my various Cottonwood portraits after important people in my life. Cottonwood No. 5 was made just a few days before the birth of my daughter Rebekkah and so that photograph carries her name in the title. Cottonwood No. 6 is also known as Victor’s Cottonwood, in memory of my friend Victor Scherzinger who loved Cottonwood trees and founded a printing company he named after them.

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Postcards from California

Waves along Big Sur Coast

Waves Crashing along the Big Sur Coast, California 2015   Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

The Big Sur coast is a magical place to be sure. It is a powerful meeting of land, sea, and sky. One could argue that modern landscape photography, as we know it, was born along this twenty mile stretch of California coast. Here Edward Weston, Wynn Bullock, Ansel Adams, Morley Baer and so many other photographers made their homes, found their muse and created some of the best known and most loved photographs of the twentieth century.

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Butterflies With Transmissions . . .

A Lowrider automobile photographed in front of a small New Mexico mission church

Lowrider named “Chimayó,” Santuario de Chimayó, Chimayó, New Mexico 1997     Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

[A low rider is] a beautiful metal box which many call home. It doesn’t matter if the manufacturer was Ford or General Motors, their executives in the suburbs of Detroit watching home movies, vacationing in weird Londons—when the metal is yours you put your mark on it. Buying something is only the first step, what you do to it is your name, your history of angles, your exaggeration, your mad paint for the grand scope of humanity. The urbanites will see them like butterflies with transmissions.

Victor Hernández Cruz, poet

It used to be that out West, you were known by the horse you rode. Nowadays, that’s translated into cars—and certainly in American culture, you and your car can be identified with each other. That’s OK with me, having been fascinated by cars all my life. I guess I owe this to my dad. He’s a mechanical engineer, and I learned a lot from him about mechanical things. Of course, when I was little I thought he was a train engineer—my mother had to teach me the difference. But I never really understood what my dad did until I visited a car factory in Windsor, Ontario, with my Cub Scout troop.

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The Cerro Pedernal: A Leap from Form to Inspiration

Cerro Pedernal No. 2, Sunset, Abiquiu, New Mexico  1996  Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

Cerro Pedernal No. 2, Sunset, Abiquiu, New Mexico 1996 Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, is a magnificent yet challenging place to photograph. It’s big and beautiful. But much of it had already been impressed upon my mind by the painter Georgia O’Keeffe. In the beginning, walking along the cliffs, I’d feel a lingering sense that I had seen this somewhere before. Then I’d realize that O’Keeffe had painted here. It wasn’t recognition so much as it was remembrance. When I began making photographs at Ghost Ranch, I sometimes hesitated. I couldn’t see the intended image by itself—only as something influenced by O’Keeffe.

I didn’t want to make photographs that resembled her paintings; I wanted to photograph the spirit of the place that had moved her. I wanted to reveal in my photographs the essence of a particular moment that held me, as I thought it might have held her.

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Ten Luminous Notecards

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Proof and Press Sheet. The Great White Sands: Ten Luminous Notecards of White Sands National Monument, Printed by Starline Printing Company, 2015

I am a photographer and proud to wear the mantle of a picture maker. But occasionally I don the hat of the graphic designer and create some of the collateral materials that our studio sends out. I became fascinated with graphic design years ago in high school, when I watched my art teacher Norm Stewart produce a booklet titled Prologue to the Administration and Staff: Bloomfield Hills Lahser High School. I remember the excitement of the moment when I opened the first copy, smelling the fresh ink and admiring the elegance of booklet’s design. I knew then that graphic design would play an important role in promoting my photographic work.

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My Photographs Acquired for the Albuquerque Museum of Art

Exhibition Installation, Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby, Albuquerque Museum of Art  2009

Exhibition Installation, Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby, Albuquerque Museum of Art 2009

When you are in the throes of a project time passes without much notice. Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls this mental state where a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus—flow. I like that.

Life has been good down in Alamogordo hiking for miles across the gleaming dunes of White Sands National Monument, making photographs for my next book. Capturing just the right moment with my Nikon—when light and inspiration meet if only for a second—have filled my days.  I am astonished to learn that my last post—about my mighty Toyota Tundra named Helios—was back in February. Helios and I fortunately continue to work diligently and happily together in Alamogordo following the light. My apologies for my tardiness . . . I will endeavor to do better.

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A Toyota Named Helios

My 2003 Toyota Tundra at White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, New Mexico 2013  Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

My 2003 Toyota Tundra at White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, New Mexico 2013  Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

One of the most important tools in my photographic work is not found in my camera bag. It’s my perfect Zone V gray toned 2003 Toyota Tundra purchased new from Beaver Toyota in Santa Fe. I have come to truly respect Toyota and in fact this dealer too. Years ago, after many failed attempts to repair a Toyota Land Cruiser I owned at the time, Toyota gave me a new vehicle with their sincerest apologies. They have had my heartfelt gratitude and loyalty to their brand ever since.

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Portrait of a Cowboy as a Young Buckaroo

Weston and his horse Cowboy, nr. Santa Fe, New Mexico  2014  Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

Weston and his horse Cowboy, nr. Santa Fe, New Mexico 2014 Photograph by ©Craig Varjabedian

Making a successful portrait is one of my greatest challenges and joys as a photographer. To look into the eyes of a subject and catch a glimpse of his deeper self (some might say soul), and to convey that in a photograph, are two parts of a profound experience. Some subjects, as you might imagine, will reveal little about themselves. Others are more open, and when you look into their eyes you get a real sense of who they are and the road they have travelled. In the former instance you photograph the subject’s appearance—what the eyes and hair look like, and so forth. In the latter you have an opportunity to capture the subject’s true self—what some may call their essence.