Today’s photo is from a mountain top in Northwest Montana. Not just any mountain top, mind you, but a very special one. This is a scene from the summit of Big Mountain, home of Whitefish Mountain Resort.
As some of you know, I spent several years living out in Whitefish and working on this very mountain. There I had many of the best times and shared so many amazing experiences with some of the best people I’ve met in my life. Big Mountain and Whitefish will forever hold a significant piece of my heart.
I’ve been thinking about this photo, and Montana, quite a bit lately. I really miss it in the winter. I mean, I miss it in the summer too. And the spring. And the fall… But especially in the winter. You kind of hit these February doldrums here in the Midwest when things feel drab and boring and everyone is pretty much ready for winter to end. Out there it’s very much the opposite. People are celebrating every snowfall and having the greatest time- winter can stick around forever as far as they care. (Though most would be agreeable to a brief respite in the summer for hiking and huckleberry season!)
I’ve found myself engaged in several conversations lately, talking about winter with fellow Iowans and describing the different attitude people have in ski towns. It really does boil down to a matter of perspective, which of course has photography connotations too. This reminded me of a blog post I wrote a few years back using this same photo. In that, I said…
“Perspective is a term often used in photography referring to the composition of the frame or the angle by which the photographer approaches their shot. However, the more I share my work, specifically at times when it introduces a person to a sight they have never seen; I realize the other important aspect of perspective: the experience of having been there. In that regard, I take a lot of pride in this photograph. It’s not because people tell me it’s beautiful or appears to be some sort of “fairytale realm;” it’s because I remember how it felt to stand there on this particular morning, watching this amazing scene unfold. It triggers memories of many similar days, and reminds me of how lucky I was to have had the unique experiences offered by my years of employment at the resort. First runs on powder days, the camaraderie with co-workers, and of course, those quiet moments before the hill was open to the public, standing atop Big Mountain and watching the sunrise.”
A similar line of dialogue came up on my Facebook page the other night when I questioned the appeal of one of my photos. A fellow photographer/blogger urged me not to discount the factor of experience, and it reminded me that I had written on this very subject a few years ago.
Thinking about this deeper, I realized that for me, this is very much the appeal of photography. It’s not the equipment or the technology- it’s the opportunity to get out there and experience a world filled with wonder. To capture a moment , however fleeting, and preserve it so its inspiration can live on. Perhaps in that then is the secret to what make a good photo… One that can transcend the actual experience and evoke emotion, even in those with no other attachment to the scene.
Something to strive for, I believe.