Many of us loved Arizona at first sight: The gorgeous sunsets, the craggy rocks, the long shadows falling across the stark desert. For many of us, that first sight came through Arizona Highways magazine.
Propelled by photographers like Ansel Adams, Arizona Highways magazine has been the state’s ambassador, revealing its majesty to 49 other states and 88 countries, and luring countless travelers, romantics and photographers westward since 1925.
This year, to honor the magazine’s 80th anniversary, the Phoenix Museum of History presents "Arizona Highways: Land and Landmarks," which tells the magazine’s story in the icons, anecdotes and (of course) photographs that etched Arizona on our collective consciousness. Today, we offer a glimpse of their portfolio, with the words of those who have labored on "the Highway."
"This magazine was — and still is — The House That Photography Built. Landscape photography has always been our backbone. (Our) photographers are still using 4 x 5 view cameras, lugging the equipment up and down mountains and getting into fantastic places at great effort and risk. You have to be out there at the right place, right time of year, in prime light. Sunrise or sunset gives you that warm crosslight raking across the landscape, showing off its form and texture."
photographer and director
of photography, Arizona Highways
"Yes, we have a style. Photographers like Ansel Adams, David Muench, Jack Dykinga, and Gary Ladd helped establish that style: Landscapes, with near and far composition; foreground, middle ground, lots of depth of field; shot early or late in the day when the shadows are longest. Shadows create drama."
photographer and photo editor,
"It’s a very ethereal thing. Photographers are a funny bunch. You can get three of them together, describing the same thing, and not understand any one of them. To try to describe it verbally is pretty much impossible. It’s this knowledge of where things will happen and being willing to be there. Nature doesn’t wait. Things happen and they’re gone."
"If you look through the old magazines, certain images will jump out at you now as cliched: The cowboy in the setting sun; the saguaro at sunset; the Indian overlooking Monument Valley. Some may think of these images as old and corny — but they weren’t cliches until we did ’em. People are so familiar with how we put images on the page, we literally helped create a visual iconography of the West."
"Arizona has such a diversity in its landscape. I’ve been doing this for 27 years. But even so, I haven’t come close to presenting all the spectacular areas that are out there."