In February 2013, I was out looking for new images in Joshua Tree National Park. The best candidate I found was a rock feature resembling a broken heart. With this feature in mind, I spent an hour walking in the immediate area looking for the strongest composition. The broken heart I envisioned evoked strong emotions that I wanted the image to reveal. My choice is the image you see here, titled “I Heal Big…”
February did not prove to be the optimum time to make the image I was imagining. Using my compass, I determined the proper azimuth the sun needed to be positioned at. I used an app on my phone to determine when the sun would rise at that spot, which was December to January. That meant waiting ten long months for the image to come together perfectly.
When I first found this location, I used Heartbreak Rock in my notes. I eventually changed the name to I Heal Big… in memory of cousin’s baby girl, Baileigh, who passed away five (5) days after her birth. I wanted to create this image in Baileigh’s honor for my cousin and her husband who lost their child. I Heal Big is an anagram for Baileigh, and the new name is much more powerful, emotional, and meaningful. Losing Baileigh was heartbreaking for our entire family, but our family also has a lasting image to remember her beautifully, and Baileigh’s twin sister.
Fast forward ten (10) months, and I found the weather was shaping up to make the image I was dreaming of. High clouds were in the forecast, perfect for sunrise. Sleep did not come easy. I spent hours in anticipation of what might unfold in the field. I arrived in the dark, well before sunrise, and quickly set up my equipment. I knew the light would change quickly so I needed to be ready. As the sun rose over the distant ridge, the sky and clouds lit up. The perfect light I was anticipated lasted maybe two (2) minutes, and I was making as many candidate images as possible. The sunrise was one of the best I have ever seen in Joshua Tree National Park.
Heartbreak Rock was still there in mind, representing all of the heartache our family felt at Bailegh’s passing, but the amazing sunrise was also there to show us that things will get better.
While a strong image and composition are important, there are moments in life when an image can mean so much more than what it portrays. I believe I Heal Big… is one of those images that means so much more than merely constructing a composition. I hope you enjoy the image.