The Shoshone woman Sacagawea that lead Lewis and Clark over the Rocky Mountains, actually never set foot in Oregon. But, whenever I look at my photo of famed Dancer, Yoga Teacher and Model Acosia M. Red Elk on the top of Paulina Peak, I am reminded of Sacajawea.
Paulina Peak, located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, high above the desert, affords stunning views of the Cascade Mountains and the Eastern Deserts. For photographers, this stunning location can be very rewarding at sunrise. If you are fortunate to be here when the high peaks are still snowed in, the first light illuminates them with a red / orange tint. While a sunset can be nice, it requires more clouds to make it interesting.
The athletic, Native Beauty Acosia posing in her heirloom Buckskin dress for me at sunset was a dream come true. I threw my whole repertoire of photographic skills at creating the image. While she stood on a cliff, with me hanging over the abyss shooting different angles and focal lengths, while balancing two Alien Bee Flash units. We were shooting into the sun, using flare as tool to dramatize the scene. Meanwhile, Regula Heeb fought against the wind, the dust, power failures and answered questions from visitors appearing on the scene..
After we nailed the shot and the light and the model, the clouds and the sun became one in my camera I noticed the last rays of light falling on the dead trees behind us. Franticly I sent Acosia over to pose in the trees, standing there looking out over the large expanse of this western landscape. You could see Paulina and East Lake below and you could visualize a land before the white man appeared or as the first Fur Traders would have seen it.
Something in Acosoa’s stoic look made me think of Sacagawea and of all those Native women that lived, worked and died on this continent and of the continuation of the circle of life.
While packing up it hit me again that I was doing exactly what I always wanted to do. Photographing Native Americans was the main reason why I came to the US 30 Years ago. My first Pow Wow photos and landscapes made it possible for me to travel the world as a professional photographer. Here I was now, photographing a stunningly beautiful Native woman, on a remote peak in Oregon in the best possible light. I guess dreams do come true.