Liberating the Lands

Anna Valer Clark

When Anna Valer Clark first arrived at South East Arizona, a place she would call home, her first question was “What do the cows eat, rocks?” The land she stood on was exhausted and the only thing thriving in the unfortunate barren landscape was the tiny rocks scattered across the view. She had left her life as a New York City socialite to become a Permaculturalist. She wanted to stimulate or directly utilize the patterns and features observed in the natural ecosystem to revive the terrain.  She saw the potential of the land and dreamt of restoring it back to its original grandeur. Many years of poor management, over-grazing, and logging in the hills had left the earth unable to hold the rainfall causing monsoons like floods and severe erosion.

Valer believes where there is water there is life and with barely any life remaining on her land the key was to avoid further damage. She realized she could hinder the erosion and capture water in the hills by putting rock dams across the places that been affected in hopes to return this area to its former glory.

 As she suspected the areas where the dams were established prevented further devastation. The soil did not wash away and that gave the native plants an opportunity to grow roots and thrive.

With each year the natural vegetation grew and established itself with vigor. To see the lands today one could not conceive that this was once a place of dust and sun-soaked earth. Anna Valer Clark has brought back balance to her lands and the harmony is magnificent.

My life has been a continuation of applying these same principles of harvesting water, revegetation of the land, and the restoration of water to dry areas. My mission has been to take severely degraded land and restore it. If one can accomplish this under the seemingly impossible conditions, then one can do it anywhere.

Anna Valer Clark

Double Weekly Wrap-up, September 26th – October 7th

It’s been a busy few weeks. We’ve put a lot of miles down, between Arizona, Philadelphia, NYC, and we’re on the road as I’m writing this, headed through Wisconsin, eventually to Chicago tonight. The shot above is from down in Arizona, between Phoenix and Tucson – driving through a pretty wild dust storm. If you’ve never been through anything like that, imagine driving through a blizzard, full of sand. It was definitely a strange experience, then again the last few weeks have been full of them. Keep reading for a few more photos and some stories from the last few weeks.


Cameras and Cacti – Shooting in Arizona

We’re finally back in Philadelphia for a short respite before hitting the road on shoots later this week and all next week. Last week brought Chris and I to Tucson, Arizona to keep working on an editorial project about inspiring individuals. Our subjects this time showed incredible heroism and selflessness. Similar to our shoot in Texas, I wish I could share more, but that will have to wait till the magazine is released. As for now, keep reading to check out some behind the scenes shots from the desert.


New Arizona Landscapes

Took a trip back in early February to Phoenix, Sedona and Joshua Tree. We went specifically to shoot background plates for some of my runners series of personal work, but also made time to shoot some landscapes. I Also had a chance meet up with one of my buddies, Tyler Mullins who is the creator of – he and I trekked out to Joshua Tree together. I strongly recommend it for anyone who had never been there.

It was a quick trip – down and back in 72 hours, but definitely worthwhile. Here are the first few landscapes from the trip, more coming in the next couple of weeks. As of right now our retouching efforts are focused on the Hawaii trip, but I’m happy to share these shots as they are finished.