The name "Light Hunter" was given with honor to Fatali by the Navajos back in the early 80's when he first explored and helped discover slot canyons bordering Northern Arizona-Southern Utah. These sacred canyons, like the now famous Antelope Canyon, Navajo Nation Tribal Park, became his cathedrals of stone as a sanctuary for solace during his spiritual healing as a teenager. This slot canyon, before its popularity, was only accessed by those who rappelled by ropes and who dared entering the unknown deep sandstone abyss. This was the beginning of his intimate relationship with the canyons, its people and the Light.
Michael Fatali, aka Light Hunter, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1965 and was raised in Arizona. His images span a forty-year event of hunting for light through the desert southwest and celebrated as a world’s top landscape photographer. Light Hunter's images are mostly captured using custom large format film cameras and classic darkroom. He has a huge number of art collectors worldwide. Light Hunter's photographic works of art have increased in value and continue to gain appreciation. Light Hunter's images are created each as originals, limited editions and special editions.
BEHIND THE LIGHT with FATALI
I'm often asked, "How did you get into photography?" My answer goes beyond the how-tos of technical execution of f-stops and shutter speeds. Instead, by speaking from the heart of what really matters to me, I choose to share a little of my personal story with you of what shaped my passion and mission. As a visual person with a deep love for nature, using a camera to view the world early on in my mission was such a natural fit, and a great tool to express myself. My fascination for discovery, along with appreciation for the awe within the natural world, began early in my childhood. These roots grew from many inspirational walks in the desert with my father. Memories I will cherish forever.
When I was teenager, I went through a spiritual crash and awakening after my mother’s defeat of an ugly cancer. Along with my two brothers, and our father, we cried for hours the day she left us. After that day, we went into protection mode and shut down all verbal expressions of our loss. It’s still hard for me to believe that there was not even one word spoken of her for many years thereafter. It was challenging enough being a teenager, but losing my mother really put me in a spiraling sense of being lost, with endless feelings of emotional aches that could not be easily shaken.
My only refuge, or solace, was going back to walking in the desert—this time alone. I was deeply drawn to the canyonland regions of deep natural carved abysses within the rocks. I would repel hundreds of feet into the deep and dark sandstone canyon of Lower Antelope as it became my place of sanctuary. It was like being in the womb of mother earth.
Years of alone time in nature, in solitude, and stillness, were the journeys to my healing and the catalyst to my mission for sharing my images. In a twist of fate, my focus turned towards the purpose of sharing with others this ancient healing energy and the beauty found in the canvas of our natural world.
At eighteen, I received two checks from social security when my mother passed, both $450 dollars each. Not much money, but it was the start to fund the beginning of my purpose. I purchased a manual film camera with the first check and a large format enlarger for my first darkroom with the other.
I have found early on that the darkroom was to be 50% of my vision for making exquisite photographs. My devotion to this vision extended to living in my Cibachrome darkroom for almost three years before I could afford a two-bedroom apartment. The art of making images, particularly large ones, was an obvious obsession of mine.
The recognition of the power of the prints presentation for capturing even the smallest details was born. To not just see the images, but also to really feel them has always been my goal. Having these tools helped me keep focused and turn those aches into earthly- naturopathic therapy. I did not have any counselors, mentors, or any organized religion to fall back on during my period of grief. The only place that really drew me inward was escaping into the wild and getting lost in its majesty, in hopes of finding myself, or something that would shed light and truth on whatever I was seeking.
A journey of healing, being raw and vulnerable, was exactly a part of that process. I understand grieving and I know how surreal that can feel. Lost, confused, scared, hurt, angry, and numb is the ocean you must first swim though to feel your feet planted once again on our soil. Trust me when I say, those left behind are not without a life vest. Spirit is all around us, and is the source we return to for reunion in infinite spaces of loving light. I came to this realization during those many healing journeys in nature. Whether your spirit is still here, or housed within a complex bodyscape, meshed with flesh and bones—the life lived in genuineness, kindness, and compassion is the life of serving, and the life of living.
Photography has been a great way to express this love affair with nature. For me, it’s merely a tool to see the world in a self-discovering way, and to share nature’s phenomenon. My passion is not photography—it is for creation and the spirit of nature which connects us all that inspires me.
I sometimes giggle inside at how so many people are stunned for how much time I will wait for light, and the patience it takes to find that perfect light, sometimes hours or weeks. I often get asked, “What do you do when you’re waiting?” Geez, I get to marvel at light and creation all around me, it’s not that difficult for me. I love it! Light is my subject, and the study of it defines my relationship. This is the first step towards making my images successful and meaningful.
Over the years I've had the pleasure and honor of leading not only my own private photography adventures but for other amazing organizations such as Sierra Club, Anderson Workshops, and Arizona Highways Magazine's PhotoScapes. I also had a lot of fun teaching my photography students for the classes I held at Coconino Community College for four years. Most satisfaction is working one-on-one with passionate and creative individuals who are seeking ways to improve their seeing and capturing the Light.
I continue to seek and innovate new tools that can bring us all closer to the spirit of nature. One of those creative initiatives that I aspire to bring to another level is in the power of motion pictures, in hopes to create an experience that can lift the spirit and inspire. I have formed an independent Imax style production company, in 70mm film, to be my next artistic tool of choice.
I have been blessed with two wonderful sons enabling me to pass the torch of discovering nature’s hidden treasures, as well as to teach a life of service. Morgan, my lovely wife, mission partner, and best friend has been a huge factor in supporting my creative pursuits. Continually motivating me to raise the bar, as well as stay connected to a way of life with the natural world, she is an inspiration and a wonderful example of a life of serving and living.
I share with you a personal view of my journey, in part because I yet contain a deep passion to continue to express, and seek for expanding the mind and heart to look at our extraordinary world in a new light of beauty and wonder. I believe our generation is yearning for a better life in harmony with our planet and the natural resources we need to survive. It has been over thirty years since my first solo trek into the wild capturing images of the spirit of nature. The glorious moments I have been graced to witness are the blessings I get to share with you, and that comes with hope that they will become footprints of inspiration left as our legacy.
I welcome you, and invite you to look beyond the details, and feel the spirit that is within them, so we are reminded of all the wonderful gifts we all have from this marvelous earth we call our home, and that the journey we are all on with spirit will never end.
In celebration of light, land and spirit always,
-Fatali, The Light Hunter
More descriptions of the making of Light Hunter's images;
"A language of light, speaking from the heart of land and spirit, was not learned overnight. I have walked, camped, climbed, and hiked for decades, while the entire time I was intimately engaging my relationship with nature, listening, touching, feeling, slowly letter by letter, word by word. I have come to learn a universal language that infuses nature’s physical beauty and spiritual energy, beaming ancient scriptures spoken through light and shadow. As God is the Author of these marvelous passages, we are blessed to experience, I am honored to serve as a visual narrator of this language, and to continue my mission to celebrate Light. Today, I feel my journey has led me full circle; As I have moved back to Arizona, back with my close Native friends, and revisiting my purpose for why I got into photography to begin with...for healing, for sharing my passion and to help others unite with the beauty and power of this land and the lure of its Light. It is my hope to continue to grow as an artist, grow as a person, touch more hearts and to be a better role model for others. It's my honor to share with you, the hope that inspires ways in which to use creativity as your own voice and journey."
Coffee Table Book of The World's Top Photographers and the Stories Behind Their Greatest Images by Author Terry Hope. A 'must-have' for amateurs and professionals alike, this elegant collection brings together, for the first time, the most impressive landscape shorts by the world's most acclaimed professionals. Featuring the work of such luminaries as Michale Fatali, Charlie Waite, Galen Rowell, Michael Busselle, and other top photographers. The World's Top Photographers: Landscape reveals the stories behind some of their favorite images. With anecdotes, tips and technical details, this book gives a fascinating insight into the creative and technical processes behind the world's most stunning landscape photographs.