Images of Arizona



With Michael Tobias and Travis Johnson

Producer/director Michael Tobias and videographer/editor Travis Johnson provide an insight into shooting with LeRoy DeJolie at the Navajo Nation Fair and at LeRoy's family ranch on the Navajo reservation

Production Challenges and Surprises

Robinson: Tell us a little bit about your experience of making this segment. What have been the greatest challenges that you faced?

Tobias: Without doubt, LeRoy DeJolie gives us a level of access to another world that is forbidden, inaccessible to us adventurous individuals who are holding a camera. You just can't march into a foreign culture (which in fact is not fully not foreign, but is the elemental culture of the United States), trespass into their space and presume them to smile for the camera. That's just preposterous and crude and it doesn't work. LeRoy, on the other hand, being a Navajo himself and very sensitive to all cultures, wants to make those bridges to further communication. And really, as a photographer, as an artist, to enrich the possibilities for cross-cultural dialogue, which he does magnificently. And that's what gives the participants in this workshop, and us as film makers, a unique glimpse into the intimate and emotional universe, in this instance, of the Navajo; and of the Navajo Fair. So the challenge is to keep up with LeRoy, but he's so accommodating and wants those contacts to be made at a heartfelt level, that these photographers and our crew are getting an incredible feast of imagery. That is not glossy imagery, but truly in-depth imagery, coming out of real contacts that are being made. LeRoy will go up to an elder, kneel down, speaking Navajo, introduce himself, shake their hand, laugh, smile, undoubtedly discover they have a cousin in common, and then ease that person into the fact that, "Oh, and by the way, I'm traveling with a dozen friends who are all photographers. You know, you're such a beautiful person, would it be possible for us to take some pictures of you?" On that basis, the Navajo that we've encountered, unilaterally, without a single incident to the contrary, have smiled, opened up, and contrary to the normal understanding, which is to photograph a Native American is to steal a bit of their soul, have willingly given us their souls for the camera. And it's only through LeRoy that that could happen.

continued >>



a trip to the fair / behind the scenes / the experience
photography / plan your adventure / interview / biography

jack dykinga / leroy dejolie / david muench


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