art, travel

Travel as Art

A man said Why,

why does traveling

in cars and in trains make him feel sad,

a beautiful sadness.

I’ve felt this before.

It’s the people in the cities

you’ll never know,

it is everything you pass by,


will you ever


~ The Innocence Mission, Song About Traveling


Woman On A Bus, Durango, Mexico, 2014

If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level please check out my new workshop dates:
Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2014
Private, Destination Workshops 2014
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
For assignment work requests, please email me:
Thanks for visiting!
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2014
art, landscape, photography, random thought, travel, workshop, writing

big bend // revisited… part 2

Once again, I woke up before the sun…



And witnessed a spectacular sunrise over the Chihuahuan Desert, with both Texas and Mexico in view.





Everything in the desert seems to want to hurt you.  It’s an amazingly inhospitable place.

Maybe that’s why I love it.  It continually screams at me to leave, and I, unrepentantly scream back at it, “no!”








Mariscal mine settlement.  When you visit this small village (seriously) in the middle of nowhere… it really does make you think about how beautifully tough our forefathers must have been.

This place is so difficult to get to and remote, that few people even nowadays visit.  What with our air conditioned cars and four wheel drive.








So I finnally exited the River Road and hit pavement.  It’s funny the feeling you get when you’ve only felt super bumpy, unimproved dirt tracks underneath you for two days – driving 20 miles an hour, because if you drove any faster you’d surely bottom out or receive a flat for your insolence and disrespect to the road – finally being lifted up on to the smooth ride of a highway, and potential speed of 65.  I love it.  Kinda feels like you just won the lottery.  Undeserved and glorious.  Thankful you made it off that God-forsaken death trap of a road.  The reverse can also be true.  I LOVE THE RIVER ROAD!!


So I spent the next several hours scouting a few different locations.  The first being my evening “epic” Big Bend landscape, that attempts to sum up the place.  Tough indeed, if you’ve ever been to BBNP.

The second shot was a night, road photograph I’ve had in my mind on this trip.  I got one in RMNP, but really wanted to try one here.  I had several nice spots from which to choose.

The third and fourth theoretically could be the same spot.  One shot would be in the very early morning hours… a star picture.  And the other was a morning “epic” Big Bend landscape.













I finished my scouting with several hours to spare, so I decided to hike to one of my favorite little spots in the park, Cattail Falls.


I always go when water is scarce, so I’ve never come away with the waterfall picture I want, but it’s a great little hike and the only place I’ve ever seen a bear in the park.


By the time I got back, it was late afternoon… time to begin my work for the evening.












I ended up with a few shots I like, so I called it a night… at least get a few hours of sleep.  Back up at 4 a.m. to shoot the stars and catch what would be a gorgeous sunrise.










That morning was a sunrise-to-end-all-sunrises.  At this point, it was as good a time as any to quit while I felt ahead.

And besides, I was into my third week of being on the road…. living out of my Subaru, eating lots of peanut butter and honey, sleeping alone (an activity I used to love – that I am now quite weary of) on the hard ground.

It was time to go home.  Hard to leave, but definitely time.




So I composed my last shots of the desert and mountains of Big Bend National Park, and bid it farewell… this time thankfully, it won’t be so long between visits…

If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level, and/ or Big Bend photography tours and workshops, please check out my new workshop dates:

Big Bend Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2013-2014

More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2013-2014

If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:

Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton

If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:

andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints

For assignment work requests, please email me:

Thanks for visiting!

all images + content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

art, landscape, photography, random thought, travel, workshop, writing

big bend // revisited

It didn’t take long to get back into the rhythm of Big Bend.

After all, it had only been 18 or so months.

But this lesser-known National Park, in the middle-of-freaking-nowehere on the border of Texas and Mexico, has been a refuge for me for the last 10 years.

In many senses of the word, I found myself in Big Bend.

I’ve found myself lost in the middle of the desert in 110 degree heat.

I’ve found myself 18 miles from any person or paved road in a almost completely submerged truck… in 110 degree heat.

I’ve found myself purposefully leaving civilization and humanity.

I’ve found myself at the top of the world on the South Rim looking out on the expanse of the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas and Mexico, in awe.

I’ve found myself coming to terms with my insecurities and problems.

I’ve found myself watching a total lunar eclipse from the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains.

I’ve found myself spending New Years Eve alone atop the Dodson Trail, happy as a clam.

I’ve found myself sharing my alone time for the first time with my (then) future wife.

I’ve found myself kissing said future wife in Boot Canyon in the fall with the maple leaves ablaze around us.

I’ve found myself returning annually to celebrate her birthday.

I’ve found myself pushing the limits on how many miles I can hike in 1 day… turns out, it’s at least 18 miles… done on two different trips :)

I’ve found myself chasing a black bear in a desert oasis.

I’ve found myself standing in the middle of the Rio Grande alone at 4 o’clock in the morning to get a star picture of Santa Elena Canyon.

I’ve found myself (more times than I can remember) talking with the God of the universe in all the glory of His creation.

I’ve found myself entering the park ill, leaving well… entering heavy hearted, leaving renewed… entering empty, leaving full.

Big Bend is a very special place to me.


I arrived in the middle of the day, so no sweeping, epic landscapes available to shoot.

I set up camp and focused on the details.





I decided to start with Santa Elena that evening, so I hiked out to scout my location.


Done.  That was quick.

I then went to Mule Ears overlook to hike the desert a bit.












Made friends with a black-tailed jackrabbit, then headed off to catch the sun going down at Santa Elena Canyon.


I went back to camp to shoot a few desert star pictures.



Got up well before the sun (4am) to shoot a star picture of Santa Elena.


Bats flew all around me as I stood in the middle of the Rio Grande until sunrise.









The sun rose high quickly.  So I moved on and headed for the infamous River Road.












Prickly Pear Cactus flowering late.


I hiked Pine Canyon.










After driving several hours on the River Road (where I drowned my truck a few years ago), I arrived at one of my old favorite campsites, Jewels Camp.

It overlooks the Rio Grande, Mexico, and the Chisos Mountains.

I would come to learn (the next day on my way out) by a border patrol agent who searched my car, that it also happens to be a favorite spot for the cartels to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

Good thing I slept that night with my .45.

On a serious note though, I have NEVER had any problems in Mexico, Big Bend, or on the River Road.  I think it’s important to draw from experience rather than fear.

Okay, so back to my trip….





Evening at Jewels was gorgeous, as it always seems to be.  The colors of the desert come alive at dusk.










I read a little that evening, and then crashed.  All this getting up at 4 a.m., hiking all day, then going to bed at 10 p.m. was truly exhausting.




But I was there to work… so before I could go to bed for the night, I had a few star pics I wanted to capture…






I slept SO well that night, once I actually went to sleep.  And I would need it… the rest of the trip would be jam-packed and one of the most productive adventures in Big Bend yet!

Stay tuned for the second (and possibly) third part of Big Bend // revisited!!

If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level, and/ or Big Bend photography tours and workshops, please check out my new workshop dates:

Big Bend Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2013-2014

More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2013-2014

If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:

Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton

If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:

andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints

For assignment work requests, please email me:

Thanks for visiting!

all images + content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

art, photography, travel

¿necesitas una vacación?

if your answer is, “well, not really, but sure!” then you’re like us.

we feel very blessed to do what we do.  traveling, meeting great folks, and photographing the world.

but every once in a while, you really do just need to go to beautiful beach somewhere and drink fruity beverages while relaxing in the sun, if at all possible.

so we took a few days off and headed back down to the mayan riviera in mexico, where we went last year before for our honeymoon…

ahhh, relaxation.  if you go in the middle of the week for just a few days to one of the hundreds of all-inclusives, it’s actually a very economical choice for vacation.

our resort was just a half a mile or so down the beach from a nature preserve…

crystal clear rivers running right into the beautiful caribbean waters!  great for snorkeling.

but if you’re like me, and love what you do for a living, you need to work at least a little to keep your sanity in all that relaxation…

so i shot every day, and explored the possibility of shooting for resorts.  and elle and i both kind of love that idea ;)

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012

art, family, photography, random thought, travel


well, as they say, the honeymoon is (technically) over… however, it doesn’t really feel that way.

now i’m not just trying to score points here, i promise.  the first month has been a total blast.  it hasn’t been without it’s rough patches, but overall i’d say, the honeymoon has seemed to continued…

the night of our marriage, elle and i got to stay at the historic adolphus hotel in downtown dallas.  totally cool.  and a great view from our enormous balcony!

sipping fancy coffee in the morning by the big windows…

it was a relaxing morning for sure.  luckily we didn’t have to rush… our flight to mexico wasn’t until that evening.

so then we arrived on the mayan riviera in mexico, and it did not disappoint!  white sand beaches, crystal blue water, all the amenities of the caribbean, but much better prices.  we had a blast!

and yes, of course i had to try a star picture over the caribbean…

may the honeymoon last another 50 years!!

all images and content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2011

art, photography, random thought, travel, writing

big bend birthday, year 2

if something happens at the same time two years in a row, does it become tradition?  could we say “our annual big bend birthday extravaganza”?  well, i’m going to.  starting now.

elle and i took our annual big bend birthday extravaganza a little early this year.  you see, some friends of ours decided to get married out in marathon at the gage hotel the day before elle’s birthday.  “great!” we thought.

another good excuse to create/ continue, a short-run, but beloved “tradition”.

“what do you want to do for your birthday?”  i enthusiastically asked elle a few weeks before her birthday last year.

“i wanna go backpackin’!”  she screeched back.

well, there aren’t many places to go backpacking in texas, unfortunately.  and my favorite place, big bend national park is about a nine hour drive from dallas.

so… in spite of the drive, we decided we would hike the chisos mountains of big bend (see sharing big bend).

this year, it really wasn’t much different.  her enthusiasm was the same; wide-eyed, youthful, jubilant.

the main difference was that we decided to wander the desert this time, instead of the mountains.

we camped at a bend in the river, so our view (even though camping in texas), we could see the rio grande, mexico, and then the chisos in texas.  it’s one of my favorite views in the park.  makes you think a lot about borders and survival, and how small we really are…

as night fell, the stars caught our attention.  oh the stars.

the next day we woke up and my front left tire was completely flat.  the road we were on claims many tires, and personally, it has claimed more tires (and cars for that matter) than i care to remember.  the river road.  it’s a 50+ mile long 4×4 “road”, if you can call it that in some places.

three years ago, my fourth vehicle found it’s final resting place on that road.  long story… i’ll tell the whole thing if you ask me.

anyway, back to the task at hand… i put the donut tire on, and we fled the chihuahuan desert to find a new tire.

we had fun on the drive to alpine.  elle was a belle about it.  even though it killed an entire day for us.

there may or may not have been a few swigs of wine on the way back from alpine, but i’ll never tell.

the next day we hiked into santa elena canyon, one of the park’s many popular attractions.

later that day, we also hiked one of the hidden gems of big bend, cattail falls.

and then later that evening, we did another short hike up the lost mine trail in the chisos.

that night we stayed at grapevine hills, just like we did the first night one year before.

it caused us to be a bit reflective, and think on the past year.  and laugh a bit at how far we’ve come together.

we had some dinner and some wine, and talked about where we are going.  love and marriage, etc.  life.  together.

we can do this.  life together.  some of it will be mountain tops, and some will be the lowlands.  but we seem to have a knack, and more than that, a commitment, to hiking through all of it together.  and i think that’s pretty stinking beautiful.

we woke up bright and early.

we had to leave that day to make my friend’s rehearsal dinner in marfa that evening.

but we had just enough time for one more hike…

our sojourn to balanced rock wasn’t very long but we took our time, it was beautiful.

winding through earthen spires of stone and sage and sotol.  the desert began to funnel us toward something.  neither of us had hiked this before though, so we didn’t know where or what.  but we kept going, though the landscape at times was eerie and foreboding.

along the way, ellie would jump up on the tallest rock around and scream with joy.

and that made me smile.  how couldn’t it?

and then we reached balanced rock.  it’s somewhat of a big bend cliche.

but then again, aren’t cliches cliche for a reason?

it was really amazing.  like the stonehenge of the desert, though clearly not human-born.

massive boulders balanced perfectly with one another for centuries, millennia.

resting on one another.  creating something good.  awe-inspiring.

all images and content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2010

photography, random thought, travel, writing

monterrey… one important role of the church


i went to monterrey, mexico with my church again over halloween weekend.

after our first trip a year ago, my church, providence presbyterian, decided to support a small church in the township of san nicolas.  la casa de dios serves a small middle class community on the outskirts of monterrey, specializing in counceling.  there is a great need in the city for biblical counceling, as many of the folks of this neighborhood have deep scars from drugs, violence, prostitution, and the many ills that life in general can bring.

so, last week, ten members of providence and i visited la casa de dios to encourage and serve.



pastor reyes has much work to accomplish here to bring the message of grace and repentance to a hurting people.



we went to dinner the first night to experience true northern mexican cuisine, a surprising far-cry from the heavy tex-mex influence we have in dallas.






after dinner, we visited the famous giant flagpole complex that sits above monterrey, to pray for the needs of the city.  it’s a place for families and lovers.  a romantic oasis.



the next morning we awoke early to serve the community of san nicolas by applying a few fresh coats of paint over the graffiti in their neighborhood park.



amber, crawford, michael, sam, and i decided to form a band after i shot these photos of the group…  they were very band-like photos, sam said.






a stray cat took a liking to us and followed us around all day.  it became our mascot for the weekend, though no one had the courage to pet it.


local kids came out to see what the gringos were up to, and quickly asked if they could help.  we were excited because they seemed to really take ownership of the new look in their park.






andrew, one of the local missionaries’ sons is quite the ham.  and i have to say, he has a pretty cool name…


amber loved on the kids…


while the guys wrestled with them.  funny how the two sexes differ in relational styles…




some of the neighborhood teens came out to play american football.  we couldn’t help but join in.  they beat us.




after the football match, we held a barbeque in the park to make friends with the folks in the area.  it was a great success.



on sunday, we attended la casa de dios to worship with our mexican brothers and sisters…








after church, we went downtown to sightsee and enjoy the river walk.











the closest thing we have in the states is the riverwalk in san antonio.  the one in monterrey is much nicer, in my opinion.


tamales!  we were treated so well by the folks at la casa de dios.  they cooked fantastic meals for us every day.




















monday, we finished painting and enjoyed playing around on the playground.

















tuesday morning before our flight, we visited casa hogar, the local orphanage.  it was a moving experience for us all to remember God’s heart for the orphans.














the sign above the door reads, “God promises to be your father,” a fitting reminder for the role of the church…

though our time in monterrey ended on a bittersweet note at casa hogar, we all left with a greater sense of urgency to help carry the burdens of our neighbors to the south, as well as our community back home in dallas.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009