Writer Joseph J. Airdo
Photography by Steven Ebright
Arizona transplants often balk at natives who bundle up with jackets, scarves and gloves this time of the year.
It is the same sort of thing that happens when people who have lived in the Valley their entire lives express panic at even the lightest rainfall, rushing from their cars to store entrances with umbrellas overhead. One’s attire in the winter is a fairly good indication of where they are from.
For those who have lived in other states that exhibit more traditional characteristics of the season, Arizona winters are mild. Phoenix and its surrounding communities rarely see snow and low temperatures tend to hover in the 40s.
Nonetheless, cold is cold and everyone’s perception is perfectly valid. More importantly, our temperatures this time of the year are cherished when you take our state’s scorching summers into consideration — especially our most recent one.
If you want to experience the more traditional characteristics of winter, there are plenty of opportunities to do so in the northern parts of our state. Gilbert resident Steven Ebright especially enjoys the White Mountains and Mogollon Rim areas, where he captures on camera some of the most sublime snowy settings that you will ever see.
A particularly prepossessing sight can be found in the forests, where icy streams flow betwixt snowy hillsides. Upon bravely dipping the tip of your toe into the water, you might wonder how such an ice-cold current continues to rush along without freezing.
Regardless of where you are from, Arizona’s winters are aesthetic triumphs. They truly offer some of the most gorgeous sights imaginable, as evidenced by Ebright’s beautiful work featured in Images Arizona’s photo essay this month.
As with all things, winter is but a temporary state. Soon, the snow will melt, the water will warm and our temperatures will increase — quite significantly, might I add — exchanging this beauty for another. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to appreciate it before it vanishes for yet another year.
Steven Ebright approaches his work as an artist differently than most Arizona photographers.
“I am not interested in the desert scene as much as I am the smaller, more intimate images of the landscape where I am not getting a vast expanse all at once,” Ebright says.
Having explored the world through photography for more than 20 years, Ebright usually has an idea of what he is looking for when he shoots — with pre-planning and pre-visualization being important parts of his process. However, he admits that not everything may come to fruition. He is perfectly OK with that, though, as he knows that he is merely an observer.
“For me, it has always been about photographic exploration,” he explains. “It is about continuing to develop the look and the eye that I have. That is something that I continue to think through even when I am not out as I prepare for the next trip.”
Acknowledging that art is a critical lifestyle endeavor for each individual’s pursuit of creative speech, Ebright has developed his own working philosophy regarding the focus and use of his nature photography.
“As someone who believes in and who follows the God described in the Bible, I want to illustrate His reality and truth as the Creator through my images of His creation,” Ebright says. My main goal is to credit God for the beauty of His creation — and I hope people will be drawn to that.”
About the Photographer
Twenty-five years ago, Steven Ebright purchased his first point-and-shoot camera out of a desire to photographically document his hiking trips. He was immediately drawn to the quest of image composition.
As he developed his own style of seeing the Arizona landscape, Ebright — who was born in California but grew up in Mesa — moved up to an SLR camera and began to learn photography through trial and error and by reading books on the subject.
“In those days, I was shooting Fujifilm Velia 50 slide film and several different black and white negative films,” the photographer says. “There was a certain nostalgia to my regiment of purchasing film and the subsequent processing at Tempe Camera. These were formative years that I will always remember with fondness.”
Over the years, Ebright fine-tuned his technique and his vision. However, a key factor remained consistent as the photographer found places in the Arizona landscape to practice his craft — many of which have become cherished places that he returns to year after year.
“I always look back at the year prior to see the dates I was at a place to anticipate that, hopefully, the weather is going to be similar,” he explains. “It is usually very close in terms of storms that come in so I can hit the places I was at the year prior and see what new images I can get from those same locations.”
Today, Ebright lives in Gilbert with his wife and son. When he is not working at a small construction company, he is enjoying hobbies like woodworking, electronics and mountain biking. However, photography remains the main thrust of his artistic expression.