Images of Arizona


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Then there's a book called "The Sierra Pinacate," which had been in the works for a real long time. It should have been published before "Stone Canyons," but it's U of A Press again, in conjunction with the Southwest Center, and that was an old desert rat friend of Chuck's and mine named Julian Hayden, who's quite famous. He actually took Chuck and I and Bunny Fontana — Dr. Bernard Fontana — down into the Pinacate for the first time in his old, I think it was a '47 or '51 International Carryall. Everywhere in Mexico it's quite famous, because it was the first four-wheel drive that a lot of Mexicans had ever seen down there. But anyway, we went down there in Julian's old rust bucket ... You want me to elaborate on this? This is a pretty good story.

Interviewer: Sure.

Dykinga: So we're down there camping, and Chuck and I had been — you know, we had done all these backpack trips and we were techno-weenies. We had all the backpacking gear and freeze-dried food, and we had stuffed it in our light packs. There was this grizzled old guy lookin' at us, kinda scratching his head as we throw our sleeping bags on the ground. He proceeds to undo his military issue cot, puts that out there. Then he stokes up a fire, and as Chuck and I are dining on our freeze-dried food, he's having this delicious steak (laughter) and hash browns. And Chuck and I are just sitting there kind of whimpering. Another lesson. So it was a real privilege to go with Julian and hear his stories of desert campfires with famous people in the past. So that's "The Pinacate," and that book was published after Julian died, and it has some of my images — actually mostly my images in it.

Then the final book was ... What was the final book? Oh! (laughs) "Desert," and that's a catchy title. (laughs) And that's on the Mojave Desert, which is actually a difficult desert to photograph, so in spite of the fact that the images to me are not as compelling as the Sonoran Desert, given the quality of the terrain and everything involved, I'm really most proud of that book. The pastels, it has a lot of nuance that the other books didn't have. So I think I'm getting better as a photographer in that book.

Interviewer: It’s awesome.

Dykinga: It's more subtle than some of the other books, I think.

Dykinga: The only thing we didn't say about the last book is the reason for it. (chuckles)

Interviewer: Okay.

Dykinga: In every case, there's been a reason for it. "Stone Canyons" was to create a park. The Mojave started in my mind when I read that the Republican Congress had funded the new Mojave National Preserve with a dollar. And I just thought, "This is a real slap in the face." So I decided to go out there and just show what a great place it is. So that, again, kinda goes back to journalism: What I see myself as doing is merging traditional landscape, i.e., Arizona Highways photography, with more of a journalistic goal in mind, of really documenting a place. Even though it's without people, it's nonetheless a significant place. And that's very contrary to when I was working for the newspapers — we always had to have people in every picture. So in landscapes, sometimes people don't belong in the pictures.

Interviewer: Yeah, in fact, you kind of strive to keep 'em out.

Dykinga: Well, yeah, sometimes. I've done it both ways. In "Secret Forest" there's some portraits of people with a giant strangler fig in the background, or something like that. But basically the last few books have been pretty much the landscape.

continued: photography >>


behind the scenes / in the footsteps of barry goldwater / the experience
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jack dykinga / leroy dejolie / david muench


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