My Favorite Photograph / by DM Heebner


I love taking photographs. I carry a camera with me almost everywhere I go. Photography is something I've always had a quiet fascination with. The art of capturing a moment, making time stand still, and evoking emotion from a memory has always seemed like the highest form of art.  

My first camera was a small, black Kodak 110mm Film Camera I got from a drug store (props to the old Fay's Drugs in Vestal, NY) when I was young. Photography took a backseat to sports, school, friends and typical life stuff as I was growing up but it was always on the back of my mind. I waited until I was in my 30's to give photography an honest go. I've been working professionally for the last five years and have had the opportunity to photography events, portraits, candids, travel, lifestyle, luxury real estate, food & product, and fine art. It's been an incredible experiencing jumping in and learning everything about lighting, ISO, shutter speeds, lenses, cameras, techniques and more. I'll admit, sometimes it can get extremely nerdy and a little too math-y for me, but overall the learning curve (and lots of practice) have been worth it. 

Over the years I've taken thousands of photographs. Some of them were finely planned, staged, and turned out beautifully. Others were finely planned, staged, and turned out the complete opposite of beautiful. Some photos were taken on a whim and are a delight to look at. Others, spontaneous dumpster fires. No matter how many good (or bad) photographs I make, they have provided opportunities to for me to step out of my comfort zone and express myself creatively. 

So, out of all the photographs, what is my favorite? This one. This landscape was taken early on a snowy December morning in the mountains of Abiquiu, New Mexico. I was away for the weekend renting a beautiful casita at the base of a mountain, an hour north of Santa Fe. I had heard about Abiquiu from my spiritual director as a place of beautiful retreat, a place great artists like Georgia O'Keeffe used to live and work. It fully lived up to the hype. 

This photograph was far from planned. It was the second day of the trip and I woke up early to freshly fallen snow. As I looked outside, enjoying the first snow of the year, I realized this white-on-white landscape was not something I could count on once the mid-morning sun burned away the clouds. It was one of those peaceful, rare, minimalist moments I love. A memory I wanted to hang on to forever. So, out I went into single digit, windy temps in my pajamas to capture this memory. After stumbling around getting the right settings and convincing myself my fingers were -in fact- not going to fall off from the cold, I did it. I captured what has become my favorite photograph. 

I love this photograph because of all it represents. If there is one area in the United States I feel fully and wholly drawn to it is the desert southwest (NM, AZ, UT, and parts of Southern California). Even though I grew up in the northeast, there is something magical and compelling about the desert. I always feel whole and at home when I'm there. The trip I was on and this photograph, captured in northern New Mexico on a rare snowy morning surrounded by mountains, represents almost everything I love in life. 

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