This Arizona photographer’s work captures the drama and beauty of the American Southwestern landscape.
“We like to say, ‘If you want to be a successful photographer, only show people the good photos,’” Adam Schallau says, chuckling.
Schallau clearly follows his own advice, because there’s not a single picture he’s shared with C&I that is anything less than gorgeous. His eye-catching landscape picture of Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River, which we chose as the cover picture for our February/March Photography Issue, is a testament to his talents, and there are many more where it came from.
Lucky for us, the Flagstaff, Arizona-based photographer offered a few more dramatic landscapes to enjoy in this slideshow.
Schallau shoots with a Canon EOS 5DSR and usually just takes a couple of his lenses and a circular polarizer filter in the field with him. But the most important tool in his camera bag is patience. It might take him five or six trips to the same spot to get that one perfect image, he says, as he waits for the sunlight and the weather to align just so.
“We’re always chasing the light, of course,” he says. “But I look for atmosphere. I want something more than a stagnant scene. I need something going on in the way of weather, whether that’s a thunderstorm, rain falling, lightning crashing down, or snow falling. I’m all about getting out in the elements and waiting for the storm to clear.”
Two shots in particular stand out to him.
When he shot “Torment Over the Canyon,” he and his wife, his brother, and his brother’s girlfriend were with him in the Grand Canyon watching a distant storm when they suddenly found themselves surrounded by other developing storms. As frightening as it was, it was also a thrill.
“For me, this photograph just represented what I love so much about our Western landscape, especially the Grand Canyon,” he says. The resulting shot captures multiple bolts in a 30-second exposure. It’s more than just a pretty shot, though. To him, it represents the clash of ideas over the future use of the Confluence, where the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers meet — an area developers aim to create a controversial tourist-friendly complex of hotels, restaurants, and stores complete with a gondola taking visitors to the canyon floor.
Another picture captures a rainbow over red-rock canyon in a seldom-seen area on the San Juan River in Utah.
“There are still places people can go and not see the hand of man,” he says. In this image, he was on the crew of a rafting photography trip. That night, a storm came through just before sunset, and he just knew it would lift right at sunset.
“Knowing I had so little time, I didn’t even bother with my camera backpack or lenses,” he says. He sprinted to the perfect spot he’d noticed earlier that day and set up just in time to snap off three shots. The light closed up, the rainbow disappeared, and he found himself alone in a beautiful landscape to ponder what he’d just seen.
“We’re the lucky few who get to be out there, seeing these places,” he says of the small clan of people fortunate enough to make a living in landscape photography. “And that’s why we have to share these, so everybody can appreciate it.”