“And the best thing about taking people out on my photographic tours of Northern New Mexico is: I get to come along too!”, Steve next to me in the car roars with laughter. “Good for you, dear Steve”, I am thinking, smiling to myself, joining in his laughter. This feels just so good! What better way to spend a Sunday than by having a lazy morning with a lavish breakfast at beautiful Hotel Santa Fe, only to be picked up by charming local photographer Steve Bundy and be taken on a road trip around Northern New Mexico, a road trip that ends up leaving both of us feeling totally enchanted? None, I am tempted to say. And it is not in vain that New Mexico State is called the “Land Of Enchantment”, as proclaimed by all the local cars’ license plates I see around me here. It really is, a land of enchantment. A land you should definitely visit at least once in your lifetime. I am so glad I am really taking my time here, exploring Santa Fe the creative way thanks to Santa Fe Creative Tourism. So here is what left me speechless, several times throughout the day, driving around with Steve Bundy on this photographic tour in Northern New Mexico.
One of the great things of touring Northern New Mexico with a professional photographer, is knowing where to go, when to go, “and only the locals can tell you so”, Steve smiles.
He is absolutely right. Or would you have known that there is a place called “Plaza Blanca” on a – now listen to this! – Islamic Ranch called “Dar Al Islam” here in Northern New Mexico, let alone that you are allowed to drive on a certain section of their private property?! “They even have a mosque up there”, Steve drops casually and points at something in the distance, seemingly unimpressed as he steers his large 4×4 along the dirt road driveway leading up to the “Plaza Blanca” White Rock Formations he intends for us to see and photograph. Wow. Even if Steve appears not to be, I am very impressed, halfway expecting Middle-East-clad people to come our way at any time. But there is no one out here, but us. Absolutely no one. It is pure magic. And yes, only the locals would know. Only them, and “sometimes rattlesnakes … scorpions, perhaps … mountain lions, but they are shy. And bears, oh yes bears, they are here. But not now, it is already too cold, so not to worry!”
Being a keen travel photographer myself, and having published more than 11.000 photos (!) on my Flickr Photo Gallery in the course of the past two years of travelling the world, Steve and I end up feeding off each other’s inspiration for the entire rest of this photographic tour with him. Besides discussing actual photography settings & skills, he fills me in on much of the local area history around the iconic reservoir lake of Abiquiu, as well as a place called Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch.! Now that is quite a story in itself: “About 100 years ago, this daring young woman Georgia O’Keefe ventured out here on her own, leaving behind New York City in order to become a Northern New Mexico-inspired painter. She was so inspired to paint here, that she gave up everything else and decided to live here permanently. The light and colours, as you can see, are still what captivate people today”, Steve tells me, his eyes filled with the same passion and appreciation that also leave me spellbound. “Today, Georgia O’Keefe paintings sell for millions of dollars. In fact, one just sold this week for over 40 million dollars!”
My photos or subsequent paintings might never sell at anywhere near this, but I will say with a certain sense of pride that they also manage to capture a spell, a magic essence, that Steve has opened up to me on this day and that has me bound to what even Georgia O’Keefe must have felt way back then. Check it out.
Steve usually takes a maximum of between 2-3 people on his tour, the maximum number being five as he enjoys taking visitors around in his own car. Besides taking you to places you would never find on your own, he also serves as a great source of inspiration and local storytelling, having swapped his career of civil engineering in California for living his true passion as a full-time photographer here in Northern New Mexico. Steve also runs his own photo blog, and in case you are interested in taking a tour with him, you should check out his page here. Well done Steve! 😀
Looking for further inspiration on what to do & see in & around Santa Fe, New Mexico? Here is my hand-picked selection of creative foodie travel tips, as shown on this Flickr Photo Gallery:
Disclaimer: I have been invited by Santa Fe Creative Tourism to join Steve Bundy’s photo tour & workshop. All opinions are my own.