A friend recently sent me a link to a position announcement by the National Park Service. They are looking for a large format photographer to make images as part of an archiving program. The story about the position said they are looking for the next Ansel Adams! Big shoes to fill.
The application process closed this week. I can only imagine how many resumes and portfolios they received. It would certainly be a dream role – packing your 4×5 camera around the national park system cataloging the vistas and intimate landscapes. Hopefully the film manufacturers will continue making stock and developing chemicals long enough for the lucky person to complete their objective.
The US government has quite a history with photographs. Many of the iconic images from the Dust Bowl and Depression days were made by photographers for the Farm Security Administration. Photographs of giant constructions projects by the Corps of Engineers show up in magazines, textbooks and explanatory plaques at sites. The creative and smart people in government who support photography appreciate that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that the message gets through quicker in a hustling world.
I’ve photographed around a few national parks. It’s always a great experience, especially lugging around a view camera. People stop and ask about it, or marvel at its use, or talk about photographers they have known who also used them. Nobody notices a smartphone being deployed at an overlook but set up a wooden tripod, brass and wood field camera and put a black drape over your head and people stop looking at the view and start looking at you.
Maybe they should hire two photographers – one to make the archive images and one to just photograph tourists watching the process.
Here’s a scene just down the road from Great Sand Dunes National Monument in SE Colorado. A little Adam-ish, don’t you think?