Magic of the Desert

Writer Amanda Christmann
Photographers Peter Coskun and Paul Gill

We often hear about the magic of the holidays, but as we make our lists and check them twice, it’s easy to forget that we are surrounded by sights much more enchanting than anything money can buy.

The Sonoran Desert is full of wonder, and her daily transformation through lights and shadows never gets old. While other parts of the country keep quarterly time to the sound of a bold brass band, desert seasons come in with a waltz, slow and measured, rising and falling with graceful sway and gentle movements.

For those who were not born here, the seasonal changes of the desert are difficult to discern, yet even the least critical of eyes is always delighted by the seemingly sudden appearance of a carpet of wildflowers that will appear within a few short weeks.

The desert holds daily surprises. Each day announces itself with a bold production of purples and oranges, transforming vistas into panoramas of depth and color. Each sunset contains a celebration as hazy pinks and oranges commemorate the passing of hours.

The magic of the desert is nearly tangible, and photographers Peter Coskun and Paul Gill have captured its solitude, its rugged beauty and its integral allure. We hope you love their work as much as we do!

Share your wildflower photographs with our Images Arizona Facebook or Instagram pages using the hashtags #iamAZproud and #imagesAZ.

Peter Coskun

Q: What is your hometown, and where do you live now?

A: I am originally from Upper Darby, a suburb of Philadelphia. I currently live in the Phoenix area—and wherever my Jeep takes me.

Q: How did you get started in photography?

A: My initial start began with a photography class my junior year of high school. They were still using film at the time, so I was able to learn the process of creating a photograph from field to finish in the darkroom. A few years later, my interest in photography sparked again, this time in the digital form. I began taking my camera with me everywhere and photographing everything. After a few years, I shifted my focus more toward landscape and nature photography, with the occasional wildlife photography mixed in.

Q: Every artist’s work is inspired by something different. What is your biggest inspiration?

A: I am constantly inspired by the beauty of the earth. There are so many amazing features that few get to see and I am always grateful to be able to experience these places. Often times, these locations are dozens of miles off of four-wheel-drive roads to places you likely wouldn’t see another person for days, which adds to that beauty. The sense of solitude is something I cherish from these places. Of course, I am also inspired by the artists and photographers that pushed me to pick up a camera in the first place.

Q: What is your most memorable Arizona experience?

A: Photographically speaking, I’ve had some pretty intense shoots amidst storms that made me run for cover and seek shelter, but in the end I was able to come away with some of my best photographs to-date.

Q: If you had one piece of advice to share with someone just venturing into photography, what would it be?

A: Just enjoy the adventure. Try not to stress out too much on just getting the shot because you will miss out on those amazing experiences.

Paul Gill

Q: What is your hometown, and where do you live now? A: I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and still call it home today.

Q: How did you get started in photography, and who helped you along the way?

A: For me, it began at Scottsdale High School’s Vocational Tech Graphic Design School,  where I started processing and printing my black and white film at 16. My biggest influences and friends would be David Muench and Pulitzer Prize-winner Jack Dykinga. Both I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past 20 years.

Q: Every artist’s work is inspired by something different. What is your biggest inspiration?

A: My work is inspired by the “beautiful unseen.” The search for hidden beauty in a trampled world is more of a constant quest that inspires me.

Q: What is your most memorable Arizona experience?

A: It’s still happening.

Q: If you had one piece of advice to share with someone just venturing into photography, what would it be?

A: Stay true to your vision. In the end, it’s your vision that will set you apart.

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