Antelope Canyon… The name just invokes vision of a time past. I can picture the native people, walking through the canyon and looking up in utter amazement and sheer awe at the beauty that God has created. I envision them taking their young men to the canyon and teaching them about the history of their ancestors. Starting fires in the back of the canyon and telling stories of the great buffalo hunts. To me, this is what Antelope Canyon is. Now, let me tell you a different story. A story of what Antelope Canyon REALLY is.
You are driven down to the canyon in the back of a pickup truck packed like sardines in a can. Once you arrive at the canyon, you are given a set of very strict instructions on when and how to take photos. You are told that things move very fast and that you need to be ready to shoot your photo when your guide tells you. As you enter the mouth of the canyon, you are first struck with the beauty of the place. This is quickly destroyed by the throngs of tourist that are there. Imagine a canyon not much wider than a few feet filled to the brim with people. I tried to count the number of people in the first chamber and stopped when I got to a hundred. It is just a madhouse with everyone inside.
As you get to the first beam of light, your photo guide will ask who has the widest lens and will put those people in the front. I had my trusty 10mm with me so was put dead center in the front middle. Imagine the old war movies when a firing squad was about to execute someone. You had three rows of photographers lined up with their cameras pointing downrange waiting for the fire command. The guide will walk over to the beam and throw a handful of sand into it. He will then proceed to yell “FIRE!”. The cacophony of shutters firing is a juxtaposition of the scene you are looking at. You are allowed two minutes at each light beam, and at the end of those two minutes, you are ushered off to the next one. This photographers dance goes on for two hours and all the way through the canyon.
While this is a magical place to see with your own eyes, it is a stark contrast to what I imagine it was like many years ago. It takes almost ballet style form to dodge all the selfie sticks waving around in the air. I saw a handful of people walk into the canyon wall since they were staring at their phones; no doubt posting pictures to Instagram. If you have never been to this area before, go; it is truly an amazing thing to see as the light beams split the canyon walls. Just do us all a favor and leave the selfie sticks in the car; that’s why God gave you arms, built in selfie sticks.
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