The cracked Colorado Desert doesn’t usually provide conditions favorable for blooming flowers, but every now and again, deserts do see rainfall. When that happens, certain wildflowers (such as the bee plant and scorpionweed) creep up through the cracks and decorate the landscape for a mere few days before wilting and dying in a process that can last for several years. Capturing these simultaneously fleeting yet enduring spectacles of nature is photographer Guy Tal.
While the subject matter, composition, and lighting of these photographs are certainly noteworthy on their own, further examination into the man behind the camera reveals that he’s more of a philosopher than a photographer. Tal also writes, teaches workshops, and does a variety of things in between. Tal considers himself all and none of these things at once; when prodded for an answer to the question “What do you do?” he simply said, “My job is to be inspired.”
“It’s a strange business I’m in; one often misunderstood. There’s no real word for what I do and maybe it’s time to put a name to it. My job is to be inspired. I make my living conveying the inspiration I find to others, in various ways. I photograph, I write, I teach, I interact. What does that make me? My photography is not about photographs; my writing is not about words; my teaching is not about facts; and my interactions are not about being social. There’s a higher purpose – the experience. Am I an experiencer?”
Tal further explains that he doesn’t make things for a living; he lives for a living. And how does one truly “live”, in the eyes of Guy Tal? By fully immersing oneself into whatever stimulus the Earth conjures up, allowing your senses to be sparked, and capturing nuggets of beauty – in both words and images – along the way. Tal’s writing style evokes all of that; just a small paragraph about an autumn morning ritual from his website leads us into a snapshot of his world -where every sense is able to find something to linger on.
It’s raining this morning. As the sun slowly rises I can see the bright yellow aspen groves on the flanks of Thousand Lake Mountain from my window. Soon the first light of the day will touch the crest of the red cliffs, then slowly make its way down in a beautiful display that had by now become a part of my morning ritual, along with the fresh brewed coffee and the hushed sounds of a small town slowly awakening. Tourist season is almost over and it’s quiet again. I’ve been up since 5am and so far only saw one vehicle on the road. This time of year there is more to it, though. Autumn always has that intangible feeling of quiet drama. The dark skies as the last of the monsoon storms pass through, the colorful trees, the slight chill in the air and the palpable feeling of winter’s impending arrival always put me in a contemplative mood. This is the time of year I look back upon, and forward to, in other seasons.
Much more than a simple photography website –and featuring landscapes besides the desert – Tal’s online portal also leads to his blog and journal, as well as to books he’s written, and workshops he’s currently teaching. Just like his photography, Tal’s site entrances us with aesthetics but convinces us to stick around for the stories and experiences behind them.