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Barry Goldwater
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Adriel Heisey
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Jerry Jacka
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Copyright Jerry Jacka

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Visions of Arizona  A KAET Production

"Visions of Arizona"
Shows Just How Far Some People Will Go
To Get That Perfect Picture

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Fortunately, if the beholder also happens to be a great photographer, others are privileged to share that beauty. Visions of Arizona, features three master photographers — Adriel Heisey, Jerry Jacka, Barry Goldwater — who have spent their lives exploring the state's natural beauty, its rich cultural history and its native peoples. Each man chose a different path, but they all had a dream — a vision of Arizona.

The magazine-style program opens from Adriel Heisey's perspective. Strapped into an ultralight aircraft he built himself, he photographs remote landscapes of remarkable complexity and beauty.

"How I see the Earth while I pilot my plane is unlike any other kind of experience," he says. "I'm fascinated by how the land develops elaborate patterns and forms as a response to natural forces and elements."

KAET producer Don Hopfer wanted viewers to share Heisey's experience. He planned to have a cameraman fly with Heisey but the extra weight was a problem. So they mounted a tiny digital camera on the plane and moved it around to get several angles.

"Besides the flying, it was a challenge to find the right way to present Heisey's photos on television," says Hopfer. "I never use the word 'unique' in a script, but his work truly is exceptional. People have never been able to see the landscape from this perspective."

Back on the ground, the program shifts to the camera artistry of Jerry Jacka who, as a teenager, dreamed of having just one of his pictures published in Arizona Highways. Over 30 years, the magazine has published more than 1,500 of Jacka's photographs and devoted five full issues to his work. In this segment, a KAET camera crew follows Jacka to some of his favorite places in northern Arizona to learn how he works and what inspires him.

"When I look at a landscape, the camera becomes my easel," he says. "I may set it up, I may walk a mile and never take a photograph, but when I find the right spot and the right composition ... hopefully, I've painted that picture on film."

In nearly a half-century of photography, Jacka has created more than 50,000 images, giving the rest of the world a glimpse of Arizona's scenic beauty and rich native cultures. "Arizona is so diverse, there's something for everyone," he says. "And for a photographer, there's everything."

Barry Goldwater was a world-famous political leader and statesman. In this segment of the program, viewers learn about the man behind the camera and how his passion for photography and Arizona shaped his life.

"When we were kids, my mother would pack up the car and take us camping in the desert," Goldwater said. "She took me for my first visit to an Indian reservation. And there was always a camera around to record those family outings."

What began as a hobby became a pictorial legacy. The photographs Barry Goldwater took in the 1930s and 1940s are images of a young Arizona and a way of life that has all but disappeared with the passage of years.

"I crossed this state by airplane, on horseback and on foot taking pictures of the land and the people," Goldwater said. "I wanted everyone to know what Arizona looked like."

Thanks to the adventurous spirit of these three gifted photographers, television audiences can share views of Arizona that most people never get to see.

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