Lindsey, Elise, Amanda and the Dunes / by Travis Cobb

For several years now, I’ve wanted to visit and photograph our National Parks and Monuments – visit all those places that I’ve never seen but want to support and protect for my son and future generations.  I’m a day’s drive from several, and with a few 3-day weekends on the calendar, that’s how I was going to choose to spend them.  As time passes and as I continue on my photographic journey, I find myself becoming detached from photographing the things I’d done in the past, and instead taking photographs for myself – the things and the places and the people I want to photograph.  I’ve said “no” a lot over the past several years because those things that I was being propositioned to photograph didn’t align with where I feel my direction is headed.  Admittedly, that direction isn’t making me any money, it’s costing me quite a bit, yet for the first time as a “photographer” I feel genuine fulfillment with what I’m doing and with what I’m capturing because I’m doing it on my terms.

With all of that, and in some serendipitous fashion, I was driving to the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado to see a friend whom I haven’t seen since the first and only time we met four years ago (she also brought two new friends).  We all needed an escape, so we escaped to Crestone to play in the sand and take a few pictures.  Anyone who’s seen that part of our country knows how indescribably breathtaking it is.  The drive from Dallas to the border of Northern New Mexico and Colorado is…well, it’s about 9 hours of suck.  But there’s this point, this magical little spot on highway 87 just east of Raton, New Mexico, when you come around this long, gradual turn and the Rocky Mountains reveal themselves as if the landscape gave way just for you.

You can plan and plot and forecast all you want, but it never seems to fail that when you take your camera out of the bag, Mother Nature gives you a big middle finger.  Trying to balance harsh sun, quick moving clouds, rain, strong winds and blowing sand isn’t something I’d actively seek out again, but those kinds of circumstances make the greatest of memories.  I know that if I’d uploaded the full resolution images and you pixel-peeped, you’d still see countless grains of sand stuck to their faces – I was still finding sand in places when I got back to Dallas.  I’d thought about trying to Photoshop out ALL the sand from their skin, but it felt like I was trying to erase part of what I remember quite fondly about that trip and being there with them, so I left it there, every grain.  I am still learning, and this trip definitely took me to school, but I am anxiously counting down the days until we do it all over again in Santa Fe.

Below are some of my favorite frames from our trip together...onesies and all the grains of sand.