Editor’s Note: The images in this portfolio are presented chronologically, based on their publication date. We love all 25 images equally.

Photograph by Enio Lanaro

Enio Lanaro

April 2014, digital (three images stitched), Monument Valley

A rainbow forms over the Mittens and Merrick Butte during an autumn storm. “Enio saw this image and had the presence of mind to think panoramic, and it was a perfect storm — literally,” Kida says. “Because we’re unlikely to see landforms change in our lifetimes, a lot of scenic photography is about shooting weather. Here, the buttes become anchors for everything else that’s going on. The combination of dust, rain, virga, a rainbow and late-afternoon light is incredible.”

 

Photograph by Randy Prentice

Randy Prentice

December 2014, film, Santa Catalina Mountains

Ice covers a pile of lichen-stained boulders near Spencer Canyon. Kida says this image immediately grabbed his attention because of its colors, textures and forms. “It just feels cold,” he says. “Additionally, Randy has left the viewer a visual avenue on the left, allowing us to go up into the woods and explore them visually. It’s very simple but very well done.”

 

Photograph by Joel Grimes

Joel Grimes

September 2013, film, Navajo Nation

Rose, a Navajo woman, poses for a portrait in front of Ship Rock, a landform just across the Arizona state line in New Mexico. “The first time I saw this image, I was captivated by it,” Photo Editor Jeff Kida says. “I love Rose’s expression, the positioning of her hands and even the way her head is cocked. This is a wonder of simplicity, and the fact that Joel shot it in black and white forces you to look at the elements themselves. He clearly connected with Rose to make this shot.”

 

Photograph by Shane McDermott

Shane McDermott

October 2015, digital, San Francisco Peaks

A bluish glow surrounds white aspen trunks and a smattering of yellow leaves at Lockett Meadow. “I remember sharing this photo with the staff and asking, ‘Who the heck sees like this?’ ” Kida recalls. “When people shoot fall color, they always want to fill the frame with fall color. This is the antithesis of that approach. The combination of bright yellow leaves with the blue surrounding them is stunning, and the placement of the leaves in the upper third of the photo is brilliant. This is one of my all-time favorite images.”

 

Photograph by David Muench

David Muench

December 2015, film, Monument Valley

Our entire December 2015 issue was dedicated to Muench’s work, and this image of rippled sand beneath Monument Valley’s buttes was a staff favorite. “I believe David was the first Arizona Highways contributor to compose images with very high or very low horizons,” Kida says. “People almost immediately started copying him. Here, he uses the textures in the sand to lead us into the monuments. In the lower part of the frame, those tiny sprouts of grass add contrast against the orange sand.”

 

Photograph by David Muench

David Muench

December 2015, film, Monument Valley

Kida has seen a lot of Muench’s work over the years, but he hadn’t seen this image, of the sun rising behind the Totem Pole, until we started working on the December 2015 issue. “As much as Monument Valley is photographed, no one shoots it this way,” he says. “You see aspects of people living there and get the sense that this truly is Navajoland. There’s a lot going on in this image, but it’s simple at the same time. It’s an absolutely unique view of a place we see a lot.”

 

Photograph by Jack Dykinga

Jack Dykinga

April 2016, digital (composite of 13 images), Sonoran Desert

Flashes of lightning and a rainbow fill a stormy sky over saguaro and prickly pear cactuses northwest of Tucson. “Jack is a mental note taker, and he knows the desert around Tucson,” Kida says. “He saw an image in his mind, and during the monsoon, he went after it and made it happen, using a lightning trigger to capture multiple strikes. This is part concept, part art and part technology, and he pulled it off.”

 

Photograph by John Blaustein

John Blaustein

May 2016, film, Grand Canyon

Old-fashioned dories navigate the Colorado River above Tuckup Canyon. “In many ways, John set the bar for river photography in the Grand Canyon,” Kida says. “I first saw his book, The Hidden Canyon: A River Journey, when I was an Arizona Highways intern in the late 1970s. Here, he picked a point where sunlight would bounce off the Canyon’s walls, and the triangular forms lead the viewer down to the payoff of the dories on the river. There’s a magical quality to this image, and it really conveys the fact that a river trip through the Canyon is a wondrous experience.”

 

Photograph by Stephen Wilkes

Stephen Wilkes

September 2016, digital (multiple images combined), Grand Canyon

From a batch of more than 2,000 photos made over 27 hours at Desert View Watchtower, Wilkes combined a selection for this image, part of his Day to Night series. “The concept is a wonder, and it’s all his,” Kida notes. “He chose specific exposures for each of the elements he wanted to portray in this image. That’s not possible to do in a single exposure, and this is an example of a photographer using digital photography and post-production technology to realize an ambitious vision.”

 

Photograph by David Zickl

David Zickl

September 2016, digital, Grand Canyon

Kida says this shot, of river runner Margeaux Bestard navigating Fossil Rapid, is notable for how it captures a moment in time. “We considered several of David’s river shots for this collection, but [Editor] Robert Stieve liked this image because it gives more of a sense of the river,” he says. “Look at the water droplets coming off her forearm and her wonderful expression. It’s a frozen moment that truly captures the experience of running rapids in the Canyon.”

 

Photograph by John Sherman

John “Verm” Sherman

October 2016, digital, Vermilion Cliffs

A male California condor braces against a cold wind. “Verm shot this with a very long lens,” Kida says, “and because of the minimal depth of field, the condor jumps off the page. Because it’s backlit, you get all the information you need from the bird’s beak and face. It’s stark and beautiful, and it’s an example of Verm combining technical know-how with his extensive knowledge of birds — particularly condors.”

 

Photograph by Derek von Briesen

Derek von Briesen

January 2017, digital, Monument Valley

After an unusually heavy snowstorm, a snowdrift frames West Mitten Butte. Kida calls this image a serendipitous shot that was the result of von Briesen’s creativity. “Derek had the presence of mind to see the potential here, then go after it and make a wonderful photo,” he says. “It’s very simple and clean, with just a couple of elements, but I’ve never seen anyone, before or since, make a Monument Valley photo like this.”

 

Photograph by Derek von Briesen

Derek von Briesen

December 2017, digital, Monument Valley

Another von Briesen shot from 2017 takes a different approach to Monument Valley, showing an expansive wintertime view of the valley from Hunts Mesa. “The snowy mass in the foreground informs all the other snow in the photo, and the high horizon is reminiscent of David Muench, whether Derek did that intentionally or not,” Kida says. “There’s great visual movement throughout the frame: Your eye moves back and forth, winding through the labyrinth of features. And it’s an excellent use of morning light.”

 

Photograph by Jerry Jacka

Jerry Jacka

April 2018, film, Hopi Tribe

We dedicated our April 2018 issue to Jacka, our longtime contributor who had died in December 2017. This shot of Walpi kachina carver Jerry Lacapa was one of many Jacka photos of the Hopi people. “He used natural light from the window, and I love the wood-burning stove in the foreground and the logs in the ceiling,” Kida says. “He gave this man a bit of privacy while including hints of what his life was like. It’s a wonderful environmental portrait.”

 

Photograph by John Burcham

John Burcham

May 2018, digital, Red Rock Country

Rock climber Jeff Snyder ascends an arch in the Sedona area via a route called “The Center of Singularity.” “I don’t know if John asked Jeff to wear a green shirt, but it definitely pops against the red sandstone,” Kida says. “I love the framing, with the ‘V’ of the arch prominent and enough room above and below to give a sense of the climber’s exposure. We don’t see a ton of adventure photography at Arizona Highways, but this is particularly well done.”

 

Photograph by Bev Petit

Bev Pettit

August 2018, digital, Williams

Children race each other as they leave the arena during the Arizona Cowpuncher’s Reunion Association rodeo. “I love the expressions on the kids and the different sizes of horses and ponies,” Kida says. “It all makes you want to find out more about the event and what’s going on here. It’s a wonderful moment in time and an illustration of absolute joy.”

 

Photograph by Adam Schallau

Adam Schallau

February 2019, digital, Kaibab Plateau

Bison graze in a meadow near the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. “The first thing you see is the green of that meadow,” Kida notes. “Then you see the three bison, and 3 is kind of a magic number in all sorts of art forms, including photography. The diffused light breaking through the clouds turns this into a lovely vignette. It’s a beautifully graphic and simple image. What a great catch to make this photo.”

 

Photograph by Jack Dykinga

Jack Dykinga

August 2019, digital, near Tucson

Kida says this shot, of yellow-headed blackbirds taking flight in the early morning, is notable for the contrast between the birds’ yellow heads, which Dykinga highlighted by using a flash, and the blue ambient light. But that isn’t the only thing to love. “Jack used a slow shutter speed and panned his camera with the birds, so he got some stopped action and some motion,” he says. “He was thinking the whole way, as he always does.”

 

Photograph by Claire Curran

Claire Curran

December 2019, digital, San Francisco Peaks

Golden aspen leaves punctuate a view of snow-covered pines around Lockett Meadow. “Claire perfectly captured the elusive transition between fall and winter,” Kida says. “This shot is anchored by the tree in the foreground, and the viewer’s eye moves from there to the pond, then to the aspen leaves on the mountain, which contrast wonderfully with the blue sky. The many textures make this a complex image, but its forms and composition are beautifully simple.”

 

Photograph by Mylo Fowler

Mylo Fowler

May 2020, digital, Monument Valley

A hogan, a traditional Navajo dwelling, anchors a view of a starry sky and the Milky Way. “Mylo figured out how to align the Milky Way with the hogan, and the warm light coming from the doorway is juxtaposed with the coldness of the night sky,” Kida notes. “It’s a wonderful color contrast, and when I see night photos that include something such as a hogan, it gives me a sense of the passage of time, or maybe of timelessness. As a Navajo, Mylo has access that most photographers don’t, and that helped him make a special image.”

 

Photograph by Suzanne Mathia

Suzanne Mathia

August 2020, digital, Havasu Canyon

“I like that Suzanne shot this vertically,” Kida says of this photo of travertine ledges in front of Havasu Falls. “The red flowers are a wonderful ‘stutter-step’ as you move through the frame, and the curve of the ledge leads you to the payoff, which is the waterfall in the background. Suzanne used a slow shutter speed, so the water is blurred, but the algae and the flowers are very sharp. When that’s combined with soft, diffused light, the result is an idyllic, beautifully framed and nicely balanced scene.”

 

Photograph by Joel Grimes

Joel Grimes

January 2021, digital, Central Arizona

“Nobody but Joel shoots like this, that’s for sure,” Kida says of this portrait of Greg Wildman and a horse. “As I recall, the hardest part of this shoot was getting the horse to cooperate and stand still. This is something of a formal portrait, and Joel added light coming from the left side, which he combined with the natural light. Joel desaturates a lot of his work because he’s colorblind, and that’s the case here. It makes it look like an older photograph, and that gives it a sense of timelessness.”

 

Photograph by Claire Curran

Claire Curran

September 2021, digital, Grand Canyon

Kida recalls going through images Curran had submitted and being stopped in his tracks by this one, which shows a lightning strike near the South Rim’s Moran Point. “I saw that Claire had shot this with a 24 mm lens, so I thought she must have been very close to the lightning, but it turned out she’d been safe in a vehicle, using a lightning trigger,” he says. “She had the presence of mind to think about what she wanted from this monsoon storm, and this wonderful image, with pastel colors and the Canyon’s buttes in the background, is the result.”

 

Photograph by Claire Curran

Claire Curran

January 2022, digital, Grand Canyon

It would be easy to think this image is a composite from two different seasons, but it’s a single exposure made near the South Rim’s Pipe Creek Vista as a winter storm cleared from the Canyon. “That’s part of the magic of the Canyon,” Kida notes, “but it’s also a credit to Claire’s ability to pull off the shot. I love the textures of the snow and the tree in the foreground, and then you have the warm colors of the Canyon on the right side. This image doesn’t hit you over the head, but if you take a minute to look at it, you’re drawn in.”

 

Photograph by Claire Curran

Claire Curran

July 2022, digital, Sierra Ancha

Snow covers ocotillos at the edge of remote Parker Canyon as the sun rises on a misty morning. “This is about shape, texture and form,” Kida says. “We have the sun rising through a dense mist, and we have the forms of the ocotillos and the snow covering rocks and grasses. When you add the combination of the yellow in the sky and the neutral tones of the snow in the foreground, the result is a stunning image.”