Saturday, March 25, 2006

Arizona - "Hands On Photographer"

February 2006 - Queen Creek in Superior, Arizona

I was recently on assignment in Fountain Hills, Arizona shooting images for the FH Convention and Visitors Bureau. While there I met up with my old college friend Marie who is an avid rockclimber. I thought it'd be a great idea to get some climbing images in my stock and so I took advantage of the opportunity to "hang out" with her. When I first pulled up to the trail head there were two big bad looking Harley riders staring up at the rocks towering high over the road. I looked up to where they were staring and there I saw little specks of color clinging at various heights against the sheer red rocks. One speck was waving, it was Marie. I waved back, and one of the Harley guys said "you're not one of them crazy rockclimbers are you?", to which I replied "No way...I'm one of them crazy photographers that's gonna dangle from a rope hanging off the rocks to take pictures of them crazy rockclimbers!"

Well, before I set out to photograph any sport like surfing, golfing, trapeze flying, and now rockclimbing....I like to try it myself so I can truly "know my subject". I left my camera with Marie to document my ascent, and I left my life in the hands of a guy half my age to belay me as I inched my way up the face. It's one of those situations where you put your complete trust in others because you have know idea what you're really getting into. I lay my hands onto the rock and became familiar with its texture and warmth. It felt good. strong. solid. reliable. Marie and her partner Eric coach and guide me along vocally with reassurance, directing my feet and hands one at a time into safe holds. Marie had said before I started "you can climb as much or as little as you want, you can come back down anytime, you don't have to go all the way to the top." The first few moves and reaches were the hardest, but not being one to give up easily, I went for it. Just knowing I could back down at any moment sort of gave me the momentum to keep going. Somewhere around halfway, I quit thinking....and it became more of a dance...a flow of movement along the planet's face choreographed by gravity. Next thing I knew, I was at the top, and it was truly a high in every sense of the word. Now I crave it. I am definitely hooked on the rocks!

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