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Photographing Tourists At America’s Great National Parks in 1980

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“Over time I even came up with theories based on my observations”, says Roger Minick, who, along with his wife, in the 1970s embarked on a mission to photograph tourists at America’s popular Western destinations. “My favorite: those families who were the best color co-ordinated seemed to get along the best.”

 

Woman-with-Scarf-at-Inspiration-Point-Yosemite-National-Park-CA-1980

Woman with Scarf at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park, CA, 1980

 

“When I approached people for a portrait, I tried to make my request clear and to the point, making it clear that I was not trying to sell them anything. I explained that my wife and I were traveling around the country visiting most of the major tourist destinations so that I could photograph the activity of sightseeing. I would quickly add that I hoped the project would have cultural value and might be seen in years to come as a kind of time capsule of what Americans looked like at the end of the Twentieth Century; at which, to my surprise, I would see people often begin to nod their heads as if they knew what I was talking about…

“There were times when the portraits came about on their own, such as when visiting tourists might ask me to take a picture with their camera so that everyone in their family or group could be included. I would gladly accommodate, of course, and if I sensed a possible portrait for my series, I would then ask if I might be able to take a picture of them with my camera…

“I must confess that there were times in my travels, squeezed elbow-to-elbow with my fellow travelers, that I viewed their presence at the overlooks as nothing more than another example of mindless, boorish, behavior. I thought they were there simply to get their pictures taken as quickly as possible, the one tangible validation of their trip, and then head on to the next overlook, the next campground, motel, bus stop, then home––the experience at any one of the dozens of overlooks remembered only later through a snapshot they barely recalled taking.

But in the end I came to believe that there was something more meaningful going on––something stronger and more compelling, something that seemed almost woven into the fabric of the American psyche.

“I would witness this most dramatically when I watched first-timers arrive at a particularly spectacular overlook and see their expressions become instantly awestruck at this their first sighting of some iconic beauty or curiosity or wonder.”

Roger’s pictures, like the places they feature, are spectacular. The people are radiant.

 

Couple-with-Matching-Shirts-Crater-Lake-National-Park-OR-19802

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, 1980

Twins-with-Matching-Outfits-at-Lower-Falls-Overlook-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

 

Man-with-Dog-Motorhome-Zion-Canyon-National-Park-UT-1980

Zion, Canyon National Park, UT, 1980

Women-with-Red-Sweater-at-Glacier-Point-Yosemite-National-Park-CA-1981

Women with Red Sweater at Glacier Point Yosemite National Park, CA

Uncle-Nephew-at-Sunset-Point-Bryce-Canyon-National-Park-UT-1981

Uncle and Nephew at Sunset Point, Bryce, Canyon National Park, UT

Two-Women-at-Logan-Pass-Glacier-National-Park-MT

Two Women at Logan Pass Glacier National Park, MT

Sleeper-Tour-Bus-at-Goulding-AZ-1980

Sleeper Tour Bus at Goulding AZ, 1980

Woman-with-Hawaiian-Shirt-at-Monument-Valley-UT-1980

Woman with Hawaiian-Shirt at Monument Valley-UT, 1980

 

Photographing-Old-Faithful-Geyser-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Photographing Old-Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, WY, 1980

Woman-photographing-at-Many-Glacier-Hotel-Glacier-National-Park-MT-1981

Woman photographing at Many Glacier Hotel Glacier National Park MT

 

Arriving-at-Overlook-Grand-Canyon-National-Park-AZ-1980

Arriving at Overlook-Grand Canyon National-Park, AZ, 1980

Woman-with-Binoculars-at-South-Rim-Grand-Canyon-National-Park-AZ-1980

Woman with binoculars at South-Rim Grand Canyon National-Park, AZ, 1980

Overlook-at-South-Rim-Grand-Canyon-National-Park-AZ-1980

Overlook at South Rim-Grand Canyon National-Park, AZ. 1980

Overlook-at-Canyonlands-National-Park-UT-1980

Overlook at Canyonlands National Park UT 1980

Motorhome-at-Overlook-Crater-Lake-National-Park-OR-1980

Motorhome at Overlook, Crater Lake National Park, OR, 1980

 

Viewing-Platform-at-Minervas-Terrace-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Minervas Terrace, Yellowstone, National, Park,WY, 1980

Mother-Son-at-Minervas-Terrace-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Mother Son at Minervas Terrace, Yellowstone National, Park, WY, 1980

Couple-at-Grand-Tetons-National-Park-WY-1980

Couple at Grand Tetons, National Park, WY, 1980

Three-Women-Resting-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Three Women Resting Yellowstone National Park, WY, 1980

Man-at-Glacier-Point-Yosemite-National-Park-CA-1980

Man at Glacier Point Yosemite National Park, CA, 1980

Man-Wearing-Hawaiian-Shirt-at-Sunrise-Point-Bryce-Canyon-National-Park-UT-1980

Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, UT, 1980

Girls-in-Matching-Pink-at-Sunset-Point-Bryce-Canyon-National-Park-UT-1980

Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, UT, 1980

Motorhome-at-Half-Dome-Yosemite-National-Park.-CA-1980

Motorhome at Half Dome, Yosemite National-Park. CA, 1980

Family-at-South-Rim-Grand-Canyon-National-Park-AZ-1980

Family at South Rim Grand Canyon National Park, AZ, 1980

Man-with-Red-Shirt-with-Family-at-South-Rim-Grand-Canyon-National-Park-AZ-1980

South Rim Grand, Canyon National Park, AZ, 1980

Buses-Motorhomes-at-Inspiration-Point-Yosemite-National-Park-CA-1980

Buses, Motorhomes at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park, CA, 1980

Feeding-Squirrels-at-Inspiration-Point-Yosemite-National-Park-CA-1980

Feeding Squirrels at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park, CA, 1980

Family-at-Lower-Falls-Overlook-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Family-at-Lower-Falls-Overlook-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Family-with-Grandpa-at-South-Rim-Grand-Canyon-National-Park-AZ-1980

Family-with-Grandpa-at-South-Rim-Grand-Canyon-National-Park-AZ-1980

Family-at-Prismatic-Pool-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Family-at-Prismatic-Pool-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Father-Son-at-Glacier-Point-Yosemite-National-Park-CA

Father-Son-at-Glacier-Point-Yosemite-National-Park-CA

Family-at-Many-Glacier-Glacier-National-Park-MT

Family-at-Many-Glacier-Glacier-National-Park-MT

Family-at-Midway-Geyser-Basin-Yellowston-National-Park-WY-1980

Family-at-Midway-Geyser-Basin-Yellowston-National-Park-WY-1980

Couple-with-Poodle-Grand-Canyon-National-Park-AZ-1980

Couple-with-Poodle-Grand-Canyon-National-Park-AZ-1980

Couple-with-Boy-Dog-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Couple-with-Boy-Dog-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Mother-Son-at-Lower-Falls-Overlook-Yellowstone-National-Park-1980

Mother-Son-at-Lower-Falls-Overlook-Yellowstone-National-Park-1980

Man-with-Dog-at-Sunset-Point-Bryce-Canyon-National-Park-UT-1980

Man-with-Dog-at-Sunset-Point-Bryce-Canyon-National-Park-UT-1980

Couple-at-Capitol-Reef-National-Park-UT-1980

Couple-at-Capitol-Reef-National-Park-UT-1980

Monument-Valley-UT-19801

Monument Valley, UT, 1980

Couple-at-Canyonlands-National-Park-UT-1980

Couple at Canyonlands National Park, UT, 1980

Children-at-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Yellowstone-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980

Children at Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, WY, 1980

Couple-Taking-Polaroids-Crater-Lake-National-Park-OR-1980

Couple Taking Polaroids, Crater Lake National Park, OR, 1980

ouple-at-Sunset-Point-Bryce-Canyon-National-Park-UT-1980

Couple at Sunset Point, Bryce-Canyon National Park, UT, 1980

Couple-at-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Yellowstone-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-1980-e1336770026137

Couple at Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, WY, 1980

Three-Men-at-Upper-Geyser-Basin-Yellowstone-National-Park-WY-19801

Three Men at Upper Geyser Basin Yellowstone National Park, WY, 1980

 

Parks featured: Grand Canyon National-Park, AZ; Overlook at Canyonlands-National Park UT; Yellowstone National Park, WY; Glacier National Park MT; Monument Valley-UT; Yosemite National Park, CA; Canyon-National-Park-UT and Tetons National Park, WY.