April 26, 2017

I regard this new website as the fifth major publication of my career and the most important, among a few dozen, total. The first three of those five were books and the last two websites. This one begins the process of catching up on the last thirteen years of my photography, since my first site was published, in 2004. It also allows a more thorough and refined revelation of my pictures, thanks to the continuing maturation of imaging and a tremendous investment in custom programming to create a site which is exactly how I want it to be. I hope you find the show rewarding.

Recently I was perusing my last book and thought that what I wrote for its introduction would serve well here too:




When I dream about returning to the basin of the Colorado, a huge, mysterious and mystical trove tucked into a corner of North America, I feel awe and excitement tinged with anxiety. My many journeys into the basin have had their terrifying moments, mostly on rivers or around cliffs, but countless times I have experienced a river of its overwhelming beauty pouring through me.

This intoxication, shared by many other devotees of exceptional wild places, impels many of us to dedicate our lives, in one way or another, to the source of that experience. Engaging such extraordinary wild places returns us to a place we long to be, near to the heart of creation itself.

Traveling the basin of the Colorado can be restful or supremely arduous, depending on the particulars of the journey. Campers who venture only short distances from their cars have the chance to experience an armchair look at some of what John Wesley Powell saw on his daunting journey. For those who choose to make a deeper exploration of the remaining expanses of uncorrupted canyonlands, such matters as the weather, the fit of one's boots, the weight of the food, and the seaworthiness of the boats remain as important as ever.

My own adventures have at times exceeded what many would willfully choose to endure, but my reward has been in the beauty found and in the photographs I have brought back. Major Powell and his crew were the first to float the river, but in this fertile realm I have often found the miracles I seek with a lens and in them the satisfaction of discovery.

After a lifetime of studying both photography of landscapes and the relationship of humanity to them, it has long been obvious to me that the fabric of wildness from which our world was made has become threadbare in a great many places. The unprecedented magnitude of our success as a species is progressively and rapidly overwhelming the planet.

Our course, toward ultimate technological power and toward the largest possible niche for humanity, brings us to collide, ever more severely, with both one another and with nature. Our response thus far has been to single out and deal with some of the most egregious and soluble symptoms of the underlying problem. In the long term, this approach will prove increasingly inadequate.

Instead, I suggest that the democratic institutions that largely define the character of our civilization embody a vigorous respect for the quality of our lives. Therein lies our hope of escape from the declining quality of our social and natural environment and the continued impoverishment of nature. It is within our power to resolve to guarantee our freedom from the excessive presence in the world of everything that is of our own making. Such a resolution could enable our Constitution to effectively safeguard our lives, our liberty, and our pursuit of happiness for the long run. What happiness without the great beauties of nature, or hospitable communities? What liberty for children growing up without wild places to be free? Our excess even raises threats to our very survival. [Twenty years on, this has become dramatically more obvious.]

I hope this book will prove a useful reminder of our obligation to tread lightly and responsibly, now and forever, as we and our descendants come and go through the miracle of this, our ancient living planet.


Joseph Holmes

February 20, 1996
Kensington, California