Behind the Scenes With John Burcham
EDITOR’S NOTE: As photographer John Burcham was wrapping up Long Exposure, his 12-month Bismarck Lake portfolio in our September issue, he met up with members of the Arizona Highways staff at the lake to discuss the project. Kirsten Kraklio, our editorial intern for the spring 2014 semester, went along and shares her thoughts on the experience.
For weeks (maybe even months), I had been hearing about John Burcham’s latest project for Arizona Highways. And I was getting excited, with just a side of nerves. I had used my best friend Google and looked at the work Burcham had done in the past. All of it was fantastic. This latest project, photographing Bismarck Lake for an entire year, had to have tested the bounds of creativity, and I was intrigued to hear about it from such a talented photographer.
The morning of the drive, Photo Editor Jeff Kida, multimedia intern Sean Logan and I piled into a car and headed to Flagstaff. We met Burcham at a quaint coffee shop and then headed out to the spot where he had spent so much time.
Getting to see one great photographer is cool, but getting Kida and Burcham — two huge photography junkies — together was pretty amusing to watch. While we talked about the project itself, I got to see Burcham in action alongside Kida. They watched for just the right light on the right leaf. They circled areas looking for different angles. I’ve always heard photographers say that they take thousands of photos for one great shot, and I was witnessing it firsthand.
Burcham said he was worried at first about how the project would go, and how he would find creative and different ideas for a whole year. It was one of the longer projects he had worked on. But once he started, he discovered how many different shots were available. He climbed trees, he used micro and macro shots, and he saw animals. He even found a geocache (a hidden container that GPS treasure hunters work to find).
The moment that has stuck with me, even months after our adventure, is watching Burcham as a group of young hikers visited the lake and started to break and throw around a log. The log was just a normal-looking log, but Burcham had watched it move as water had filled and drained from the lake. He had made photos of it and around it. And now he was watching as the log that he had visited for 365 days was being splintered. With a shake of his head and a comment of disbelief, Burcham showed me the connection that had grown between him and the beautiful surroundings of Bismarck Lake.
— Kirsten Kraklio, editorial intern (spring 2014)
All photos by Jeff Kida. Click thumbnails to enlarge images.