It is at the intersections of nature and the hand of man that the greatest visual, philosophical, environmental and political energy exists. At these intersections, we discover something important about ourselves and our relationship to the world.
Early in the first quarter of 2009, the studio phone went silent; no portfolio requests, estimates, or assignments. Nothing. I have been through a few recessions and each has presented a new and unique set of challenges. The Great Recession of 2009 would be no different.
I decided immediately to capitalize on the slow period, turn it to my advantage creatively, if not financially. “Let’s go on a photo road trip!” I said to photographer Mike Sakas, my good friend and first assistant. Anything we found interesting was fair game. Thus it was one evening in March 2009 that we drove over Hoover Dam and encountered the bridge under construction starting its aerial journey across the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. I had not previously known about the bridge and the Hoover Dam Bypass. Our immediate decision to spend another day and evening photographing at the dam and bridge has resulted in one of the fullest and richest creative experiences of my career.
The evolving bridge sparked my imagination. Watching the bridge’s construction, especially at night, was both inspiring and captivating. I needed to find a way to return to photograph the bridge.But how could I gain access? Headed by the Federal Highway Administration, (FHWA) responsible parties for the Hoover Dam Bypass Project included several federal agencies, the Arizona and Nevada departments of transportation and several private contractors. Construction had been ongoing for years. No doubt, all their systems were firmly in place, including policies and procedures for photography.
I concluded my best bet was to secure an editorial assignment and felt intuitively The New York Times Magazine would be an excellent fit. They might appreciate the photographic aesthetic emerging in the first few images and grant me the freedom to pursue this vision. With the help of Sharpe+Associates, my reps, we approached the magazine. As luck would have it, the pending architectural issue would be on national infrastructure. With a small guarantee for first editorial rights and a letter of assignment, I made my plans.