Utah, USA - 2022
Monument Valley is a storyteller’s paradise. The enormity of the monoliths adds an extra character at no expense and that character is a constant throughout a day’s filming. No lunch breaks, loo breaks or touch ups. They are a bankable asset that must be used and John Ford did exactly that in his filmmaking.
The issue for a still photographer is that within no more than an hour of sunrise, the light is simply too stark to do the drama of this amphitheatre justice; the vistas become postcard vistas and are dumbed down by breakfast. I would say that the window of opportunity on a clear morning in this part of the world is at best 30 minutes.
The idea of using the spokes of the wagon wheel as a means of light diffraction was not preconceived. I just noticed the effect on the wagon as the sun first emerged that cold morning on the Utah/Arizona border.
The anonymity within this image works because the identity of the driver is not really relevant to the story. It is more about the isolation and the sense of purpose. I would imagine that in the 1880s any trip like this was done for a reason, not as a weekend jaunt and most journeys were concluded with a necessary haste.