I have often found that the journey is just as important as the destination. This proved once again to be true on my recent trip to Jerome, AZ with fellow photographer and friend Andres Gonzalez. After heading North up the I-17 with a plan to explore the historic copper mining town of Jerome, we caught the 260 shortly before sunrise. At sunrise, we pulled to the side of the road.
Had I been alone, I would not likely have stopped. It was my friend who saw something that piqued his curiosity. While he worked his subject I looked around, surveying my surroundings and rubbing my hands together to combat the bite of the early morning chill. I left my camera in the car so I could concentrate on seeing. As I’ve said before, inspiration often shows up when you get to work; when you pursue it intentionally by making yourself present and aware. Sure enough, the plastic diffuser atop the vertical traffic barricade caught my attention as it broadcast the sun’s light.
I envisioned it as a mock sun, rising between the two mountain ranges like a prop in a theatre production. The mountains were cardboard cutouts in a stage set, made flat by the glow of a new sun fighting through the atmospheric haze. In typical “hold my beer” fashion, I asked Andres to watch my back as I made a few shots from the middle of the sparsely traveled highway. Unsatisfied with my composition, and having difficulty focusing my attention due to the reckless danger I was placing myself in, I decided it was not working. There was, however, an unfinished stretch of highway on the other side of the median, closed off from traffic. Perfect.
We picked up the barricade and moved it to the safe side of the road where I could work out my composition with less distraction. Thus, my favorite image from the trip was born—not at our intended destination, but on the road to it, and all because someone else compelled me stop and look.