When a Photograph Stays with Me

Back when we were students at Brooks, my cousin Cisco invited me to come with him to a bookstore on State Street (the name escapes me now) and listen to National Geographic photographer Sam Abell. Not only were his photographs compelling, it was the way he eloquently spoke about his practice and described his pictures that really made an impression on me. Several years later, I bought his book Sam Abell: A Photographic Life and there is this one picture that never left my mind. It was this image:

Firth River Valley Yukon Territory, 1981/ ©Sam Abell

Firth River Valley Yukon Territory, 1981/©Sam Abell

It is a photograph of a patch of snow that accumulated in a tiny crevice in the soil on a dark stormy day. It is a very quiet image yet so powerful simply because he stopped and noticed it. All the elements came together in this picture: the light, the composition and the moment. It was captured with such thoughtfulness that it has this meditative quality to it.

A few weeks ago, we were hiking to Garfield Peak at Crater Lake National Park when I stopped and saw a patch of snow below the cliffs. I instantly remembered Mr. Abell's photograph. I raised my camera to my eye and took this picture below as a homage to him. Thank you for sir for inspiring me.

Hiking Garfield Peak. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon./ ©Stella Kalaw

Hiking Garfield Peak. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon/©Stella Kalaw