In the distance beyond the Spiral Jetty on the northeast shores of The Great Salt Lake is an area that I had often longed to visit when I was up in the area shooting. I knew there was an adventure waiting for me there but was so focused on working around the Jetty and Rozel Point that I never seemed to allow enough time to go there before the sun went down. On one particular shoot one summer I took a picture of the area and in my mind made plans to go there one day.
My first adventure in this area was with a guy named Matt who'd flown in from Dallas to have me do some pictures of him. As we hiked out towards the beach from the end of the road at the Jetty I noticed something big and white up on the hill to our right. It seemed completely out of character with the black volcanic basalt stones that dot the area amidst the sage and low-growing desert plants. I wanted to shoot in the water but in the back of my thoughts was an itch to go see what that big white formation on the hillside was all about. So after a few minutes in the water we hiked up to the big white boulder on the hill. And that's where we got the pictures we'd come for that day.
Imagine my surprise when we found not one, but two giant white sandstone formations that had been worn by the eons of time, towering majestically above the landscape and reminding me of the Stonehenge monoliths in England. As I looked down over the epic view of the Great Salt Lake below it seemed only fitting to call this area Stonehenge Beach. I had looked for it on several maps and found nothing, so I figured it was mine to name.
Since that first visit I've been back often, falling more in love with the area each time; reveling in the beauty and drama that it affords me and my models as we're out there doing our thing.
When I contemplated doing some pictures under the light of the Annular Solar Eclipse in June of 2012 my thoughts went immediately to Stonehenge Beach. I arranged to work with a sculptor named Dave and we took off in plenty of time to hike into the area and be ready to go when the eclipse hit. We were in the waters at Stonehenge Beach when the sun began to slip behind the moon and cast an eerie yet beautiful light across the water and David's body. This is my favorite shot from those precious few moments of shifting, ephemeral light.
We worked in the water and on the shore for a few hours, saving those last few precious hours of sunlight for the sandstone monoliths on the hill. As a sculptor David seemed to have a particular affinity for the rocks and climbed them naked and barefoot and worked ontop of them with a quiet gracefulness and ease.
Later that same summer I called my friend Heather and asked her if she wanted to do some pictures at this amazing new place I'd found. A ray of light could not be fitted between the end of my question and her yes. Once again I was on my way to Stonehenge Beach only this time with my longtime muse; the covergirl of my first book and my treasured friend. I'm pretty sure Heather would agree with me that it was one of the most magical and fun-filled days either of us has ever had. Our pictures from that day at Stonehenge Beach, just the two of us, are among the most intimate, outrageous and magical of my career; a confluence of the extraordinary setting, the shared love of our craft and our friendship. We didn't want the day to end so we stretched it out as far as the sun would let us, and these are some of the pictures we came home with.
On the drive back home through the desert around dusk, one furtive owl after another came up out of nowhere and flew along beside the car; a couple of them barely clearing the windshield. The magic of our day at Stonehenge Beach wasn't over yet it seemed. Owl sees that which we most want to keep hidden. She is honest and sees directly into our hearts and souls. When we least expect it Owl will call to us and startle us, much as she did that night on our drive home. The message, if we are listening, is clear: we are being watched. In all of our details both painted large and sketched very small there is an awareness of who we are and what we're doing. You, the reader had not yet seen these pictures. But the earth and her native inhabitants had. They were there and they watched us playing in the water while the earth held us warm and safe; aware of our every movement upon her. Of this I have never had any doubt. But the owls flying along beside us that night were reminding us that we had not been so very much alone out there as we'd thought. Our work as artists and friends was part of a bigger picture. You can see it in the details if you look with your heart and feel with your eyes.