The second image I have chosen in this series was taken at one of the most staggeringly beautiful, but often overlooked, national parks in the United States. Having painstakingly researched in advance the locations on my 'must-shoot' list, this photograph is a poignant reminder that all the planning in the world is no substitute for being in the right place at the right time.
Where and When?
June 2012 in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
The Background Story
Visiting the Grand Tetons came off the back of a week in Yellowstone, which combined to make for the single best 10 days of travelling, wildlife, and photography I have encountered. I was originally inspired to make the journey by Ansel Adams’ evocative photograph of the Snake River winding its way towards the mountains; there is a raw, wildness to that image that I wanted to experience for myself.
Admittedly, very little! This was one of those spontaneous, unplanned moments that largely came down to fortunate timing.
How it Came Together
I shot this standing on a pitted dirt track that led to a farm. Just a few hundred feet further down on the right is the location I was originally scouting out for the next day’s sunrise. As I was walking back to the car I noticed these two horses in the field. Judging by their impeccable condition, I assume they belonged to a ranch.
Having spent the past week seeking out all kinds of wildlife, it was slightly unusual to to be met with (what appeared to be) domesticated animals. I wanted to capture them against the backdrop of the Grand Tetons to create a classic image of life along the Rocky Mountain range.
I waited patiently for them to get within range and just as long again for them to be suitably positioned. They were quite active but largely ignoring me, so it was a case of hoping the shot would come together. In the briefest of moments, one of them lifted their head to gaze beyond me, into the distance. Seconds later they were both grazing again.
Why is it a Favourite?
Visiting Grand Teton and Yellowstone was the most enjoyable and rewarding trip I have undertaken. On a personal level this photograph captures a very positive memory for me.
On a more analytical level I like the positioning of the horses, how the muscle tone is visible in the legs, and how the mountainous backdrop adds to the scene. The snow-capped peaks and the ominous clouds sweeping in creates a natural sense of wildness.
Ultimately it is a favourite of mine because it captures what life in the park can be like: extremely tough. There is a barren, almost bleak feel to the image. In my opinion it’s not a photograph that shows the beauty of Grand Teton but instead highlights what life in the park is like - for its animal and human residents.