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Windswept: A My Grand Canyon Story

Photographer Mashal Smith reflects on first experiencing, and capturing, the wonder of Grand Canyon. 

Marshal Smith Image

For as long as I can remember, I felt some kind of connection with wind and weather. Like so many of us when we were younger, I would play games outside and amuse myself with findings in nature. Rocks, sticks, leaves, they all became tools of the imagination. Bugs, and other small creatures became my friends, and in truth, I learned a lot about life from the outdoors. Things like, how delicate life can be, and how some things like flowers return to us again and again. I learned that great and powerful weather makes way for new growth, and how what we do as humans as we explore and learn about our world can have consequences or make a difference. Wind storms were always my favorite. The moments right before hard rain when skies turn dark, beautiful and mysterious. Nature is awe inspiring, and because of it I wanted to be so many things when I grew older. Now years later, I am a photographer. And that one wasn’t on my long list of careers a young kid, but here I am!

After traveling the world and seeing so much of what I wanted, the check mark box beside the Grand Canyon was still empty. I was afforded the chance to go see it this year in March. Finally, It was time. If anyone ever tells you that seeing the world makes you realize how small you in fact are, listen to them. For the canyon is an unimaginable and ethereal place, and make no mistake…there is no comparison to be made with what you would see with your eyes. 

For a photographer, it is a very bold move when witnessing epic perfection designed by nature, to try to re-create it. It’s so daring. And it should be. It is this level of respect that we should carry as professionals, as we capture places that others may never have the chance to see. For many, it is our image that they will cut out of a magazine, and post on a door at home as they make a “one day” wish. For others, that image will be the single inspiration to travel a road they had never dreamed of until then.

The whole time during my visit at the Grand Canyon, the wind was my friend. This isn't always said by photographers, and in fact it can be a hindrance for some of us. But I welcomed it. High up on the cliffs, the gusts would move and bend trees, and the clouds would swirl and change within moments as they danced around me. “The wind and rain did this.” I said to myself smiling. Over centuries of time, my ever invisible friend had carved mountains from this earth. How extraordinary…

The next day it became cold. And then much colder. And then came snow and rain. And it was perfect. I was so alive inside watching red rocks peppered in sparkling white snow from these incredible heights. Creatures that live here climb high, and then higher just because they can. And the vastness is dizzying to say the least as you look from your lens to the ground you stand on.

My favorite kind of photography is in landscapes. Any place that hosts light and dark, and mood and clouds, I am always overwhelmed by it. I will never get tired of finding places like this. And I will never forget my trip to the Grand Canyon. I hope to return again and again. May you also find yourself in places just like this, with the wind in your face and spirits soaring. And may you be brave enough to explore this great world we live in, and remember for long after how you felt when you did.

About the Author

Mashal Smith

Mashal Smith

Mashal Smith is a professional photographer based in North Carolina USA. First Grand Canyon Visit: March 16-23, 2024. Explore more of her work on Instagram: mashalsmith.photography, and on Facebook: Mashal Smith Photography.

By guest contributor, Mashal Smith.

Originally Published: 06-11-2024