By Jennifer R. Carnes
Success for Don and Sandy Libby, owners of Iron Creek Photography® in SaddleBrooke, still seems unreal.
It feels like it should be “refrigerator art,” Don explained in an interview with the Pinal Nugget.
But the images captured digitally by the couple are far from “refrigerator art.”
Eagles dancing over water; bears conversing in the wild; a buffalo catching snowflakes on its tongue. Their work is poetry. To capture images such as these, any photographer would say that you must be in the right place at the right time. In that, Don and Sandy have been extremely lucky.
Buffalo, Don said, are one of his favorite subjects to photograph. He said that one day he had been driving around the wilds of Wyoming looking for a herd to photograph. Not having any luck in his usual places, he said he tried a road he had seldom traveled.
“Suddenly,” he said, “I was in the middle of a herd.” He stopped his truck, opened his window and set up his camera on his specially built window mount. The buffalo, he said, were close enough he could have touched them had he wanted to. At times, he had to lean as far to the side as he could just to keep the animals in his viewfinder.
Don is one of few photographers in the world who uses a medium format camera to shoot wildlife photos. He is shooting photos with a Phase I IQ 160, 60 MP digital back connected to either a Phase I DS body or Cambo WRS technical camera.
“A Cambo,” Don explained, “is like what Ansel Adams shot – on steroids.”
Sandy just recently gave up her Canon DSLR camera in favor of a Sony A7R, a full frame 35mm 36.1 MP camera. She explained that the Sony is lighter and much easier to hold. Don joked that if he were to ever cheat on his wife, it would be with the Sony.
Cameras aren’t the only new thing for the photographers. They recently introduced a line of ceramic tiles with their beautiful images printed and fired onto them. The prices for the tiles are amazing, just $39.95 for a small 8×6 inch tile or $59.95 for the larger 8×12 inch tile. (Of course, tax is not included in the price.) The tiles can be shipped as well.
Many of the tiles bear images of the Wyoming wilderness, although they do have tiles with Arizona icons and scenes. One such image is titled “Sand Dancer” and was shot in a box canyon on the Arizona-Utah border. The colors are a vibrant turquoise and terra-cotta, evoking thoughts of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Another customer favorite is “Crosses” which was shot using an infrared filter.
The two spent most of last year in Jackson Hole, Wyoming photographing landscapes and wildlife. And while they have joined the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce and Elks Lodge 1713 and count Jackson Hole as one of their two gallery locations, Don wanted to assure their Arizona fans, “Contrary to any rumor, we have not moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.”
Iron Creek Photography® is exclusive to Don and Sandy’s working studio in SaddleBrooke. The studio is open only by appointment. It’s very important to call first, Sandy explained.
“We are landscape and photographers,” she said. “There is only so much we can do from our backyard.”
Don estimated that they are on the road 50 to 60 percent of the time. The rest of the time, he joked, he is chained to his desk working with the images, preparing them for printing.
The Libbys capture, develop (call it computer-dark room since they shoot digital) and print their own photos. They stretch their own canvas for the gallery prints.
“The only thing we don’t do is print the tile,” Don said. “We would have to have a different studio set up.” They do, however, work very closely with their vendor who prints and fires the tiles. “The work that he does far surpasses anything we can do,” Don added.
All of their tiles can be viewed and ordered right on their website, www.IronCreekPhotography.com. They do warn that some of their tiles are in limited quantities, so there is a possibility that they would need approximately three to four weeks lead time should they have to order more.
Also on their website is a gallery of their available canvases and prints including their limited edition prints. Don maintains a blog on the website, detailing their travels, current projects and thoughts about the cameras he uses. His blog has visitors from across the globe and they have sold photographs internationally. Don’s work, among other photographers, is licensed through Phase I for tradeshows.
The couple was pleased to announce that they had just been invited to place one of their images at Oracle Ford. Patrice Ross, they said, was happy to give them wall space to display one of their images. On loan first will be one of their Grand Canyon prints. Be sure to stop by the dealership at 3950 W. Highway 77, Oracle, to view it.
The Libbys invite readers to visit their online gallery and blog at www.IronCreekPhotography.com or find them on Facebook at www.FB.com/IronCreekPhotography. If you’d like to visit their working studio, please call 520-603-0458 to schedule a time and get directions.