A special trip to Arizona…

My wife Priscilla and I were headed to Chinle, Arizona to shoot a traditional Navajo wedding but the day we were leaving it was postponed due to a death in the grooms family. Even though it was distant and no one in the close family knew the person, Navajo tradition says there are no ceremonies within 30 days of a death in the family. I think it’s amazing that they still follow tradition when it comes to things like this because these days it seems everyones schedules and individual lives are more important than tradition and what the older wiser generations have to teach. But in the new world of internet travel purchases our tickets were none refundable. Cynthia and Daniel were still planning the family camping trip into Canyon De Chelly, so they invited us to come along and shoot anyway. We spent two days camping on Daniel’s land in the canyon which was a powerful experience and we were incredibly lucky to be apart of it. Everyone we met on the camping trip were the most genuine, open and interesting people. Being out in the canyon away from distractions is probably the best way to get to know a group of people in a short amount of time. Daniel built a medicine wheel at the back of his property up against the wall of the canyon. It’s basically a circle of rocks set out on the ground with a pattern that is meant to harness spiritual power. It’s symbolic of peaceful interaction between all human beings and represents the circle of life. You walk into the wheel in a certain direction and end facing each other in the circle. It was the perfect experience for the first night of everyone being together and impossible to explain the energy that we experienced. We shot photos of the beginning of this ritual and then joined in later. Priscilla and I both felt so fortunate to be welcomed in and lucky to be present to that experience, words really can’t describe.

The second day we went to the home of the woman who wove Cynthia’s wedding dress. She’d spun the wool from her sheep and coloured it with wild plants from the area. It was the first time Cynthia had seen it complete and no doubt the wedding in September is going to be incredible.

We spent two days as part of the group shooting everything we experienced and capturing the moments and interactions between the group. We are so grateful to have been apart of this weekend, the people we met and the experiences we had are memories for life. Thank you Cynthia and Daniel for inviting us to be apart of your wedding and bringing us along for your family trip. You and everyone we met that weekend are unique and amazing people.

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