I took this picture about ten years ago, around the time that I first began to really think of myself as a photographer, as a person who explores with a camera in hand for the sake of slowing down, looking at the world with greater attention, noticing how things exist simultaneously within the context of a specific place and time and also as part of something larger, broader, more complex.
On that particular day, I had decided to drive along the then-deserted Highway 83 to Castlewood Canyon State Park. I had never been there before, despite its proximity to Colorado Springs, having always chosen the mountains over the plains for hiking. Of all there was to see there – a lovely network of trails, a waterfall, and, yes, a canyon – I was most drawn to these tenacious flowers with their long, bright red tendrils (Prairie Smoke, I later learned) that cropped up trailside throughout the park. The act of taking these pictures solidified the experience in my mind: I don’t need to look at them to return there – to the pleasure of exploring a new place, laying on my belly and examining these flowers up close with the camera, wondering how I had never seen them before, delighted to have “discovered” something so wild and beautiful and unexpected.
For me, this photograph is more than a picture of an interesting flower. On a very personal level, it represents what photography has meant to me, what it has given to me: a certain quality of attention, a letting go of what I expect to see in order to see with greater clarity, and the opportunity to articulate my experiences in a new way.