“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.”
“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.
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.
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