The Beautyway

Sandy sitting on the steps of an old cabin in Utah
A day doesn’t go by but I sit on the stoop of my hacienda and contemplate the many visual gifts of those who have either gone before me or who walk The Beautyway path of photography and art with me.

As an assignment in Laura Valenti’s class “Meditations on Gratitude,” we were asked to find some way to celebrate or honor our visual mentors–those who have inspired and informed our own efforts at photography.

I know Laura said we didn’t have to go all-out, but too late! All of yesterday got swallowed up (creatively, just the way I like to get swept away by a challenge) as well as a couple hours this morning. I easily have eight hours in this little four minute video–there was just so much to think about, process, and, of course, my original file was 10-15 minutes, so the agonizing editing!

I originally included my husband and my artist sister, but then I started to think about large family politics and reluctantly deleted them. Same with Galen Rowell and Art Wolfe and Ansel Adams and Andrew Wyeth–too many white guys, thanks to my father’s influence and generation. Paul Klee, Kandinsky, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Goya…the list goes on thanks to a lifetime self-education in the arts…and the historical lack of women.

However, many years ago, there was a three-nation traveling exhibit of Georgia O’Keeffe, Emily Carr, and Frida Kahlo, and that single day in the museum shaped my thinking and my vision for the decades to come. I have studied all three intensively and journeyed to the wellsprings of their visual inspiration to find my own.

More recently, thanks to an inspirational video Laura posted, I am being inspired by Jay Maisel not to do something I’m not already doing, but to do it more intentionally.

Jay Maisel was asked what two words would make a person a better photographer, and he said, “Be open. Be open to what is happening around you…”

This is my third class with Laura, and her visual aesthetic never ceases to astonish me because it is so different from my own; yet, it is beautiful and evocative, so I have opened my visual range to include images with that unique “Valenti effect.”

I am grateful to all the great artists, including the ones right here in my own home, who have informed and continue to educate my eye to what is most beautiful in this world.


Who are YOUR visual mentors?

3 Replies to “The Beautyway”

  1. 8 hours to 4 minutes – that’s a lot of cutting.

    Such a powerful piece, Sandy! So many gorgeous images, both still and moving.

    I liked seeing the thematic sequences, like doors and faces.


  2. Well Sandy, you certainly don’t ‘give a damn about histographs, thirds…’etc. as Jay Maisel indicated in his brief video. Your creative spirit flows, spirals, dances to your own inner tune…that’s so freeing, isn’t it…I go for my exploratory walks with my camera like you do, and I never know what I’ll see, but when the moment comes I’m ready and right there…and there is always something to see worthy of my focused interest, however seemingly small…

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