UTAH by Michael Wickes


Moments in Time
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Pleasing photographic portfolio of the ever-photogenic state of Utah.

Landscape photographers from Timothy O’Sullivan to David Muench have made large parts of Utah their own, turning in stunning portfolios decade after decade. Idaho-based Wickes confesses to knowing little about the state, but he accepts a friend’s challenge to shoot it all the same: “The less you know about a place,” says the friend, “the more you’re apt to sense the place’s real character.” Wickes gets at least some of the character down well, while avoiding many of the clichés of landscape photography in Utah–the vaulting stone arches of Arches National Park, the massive sweep of the Hurricane Cliffs, the bewildering hoodoos of Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef. To be sure, there are plenty of familiar places here: the sheer rock faces of Zion, storm-shrouded Flaming Gorge, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes of the desert country. Shooting on Velvia and Sensia film, Wickes produces color-drenched images of those places and more. His geographical coverage could have been a touch broader, however–what’s a Utah portfolio without the bright lights of Wendover? Landscapes aside, he admirably captures the action of Utah’s sports-loving homegrown and tourist crowds, with one especially memorable shot of a skier pirouetting upside-down over a steep mountain slope. On the people-and-pastimes front, Wickes devotes a few pages too many to rodeo scenes, which lead to the notion that Utah is a rural place, which it’s not: Ninety percent of residents live in cities, and they’re plenty modern, as Wickes captures well in shots of ballet dancers and angst-ridden teenage mall-hoppers in teeming Salt Lake City.

Nicely done overall, and very well printed. The shot of the Anasazi ruin at Cedar Mesa alone is worth the cover price.

ISBN: 1-931688-22-2
Program: Kirkus Indie
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