By Jim Urquhart
As soon as I got out of my car and stepped onto the salt I could feel the skin on the end of my nose begin to sizzle. Within five minutes I cracked open my first water bottle and was relatively uncomfortable. By the time 15 minutes had past I was already questioning why in the hell did I choose to go on this three day assignment.
When the bright sun began blinding me after it was reflected off the salt under my sunglasses into my eyes and I could feel it begin to burn under my chin I became thankful I didn’t pay homage to the Scottish half of my ancestry and wear a kilt. In fact, within an hour of arriving I met a young couple that decided to tell me while waiting in a line the day before I arrived they had their nether regions sunburned because they didn’t have on the right underwear under their shorts to protect them from the reflected sun.
“Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Take me home. Oh, won’t you please take me home.”
Apparently those few lyrics from the Guns ‘N Roses 1987 hit song Paradise City are the only parts of the song I know and also the only song I know the lyrics to. I can’t even recite the Star Spangled Banner. But singing in a false seagull strangling soprano while hiking and camping in grizzly bear country was my way of not creeping up on a bear and surprising it and thus becoming bear food.
My rental SUV smells like a junior high school locker room manned by a chain-cigar-smoking gym instructor and I am standing on the side of the road with my pants and shirt half off cleaning myself with baby wipes and I am itching in areas that are not suppose to itch like that… yeah, I am in the field covering a wildfire.
Luckily I keep a “go” bag with all my own fire gear in it. I got the call in the evening and had arrangements to fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico, the next morning. I was being sent to cover the Wallow Wildfire, which has turned into Arizona’s largest fire in history, and was right on the border with New Mexico heading to the community of Luna, New Mexico. Thankfully I had editors that trusted me and knew I had been to a few of these rodeos before and would let me make the calls as to where I would go for photos and take the risk of getting out ahead of the fire.
At noon on Sunday I found myself standing alone in a pasture in the middle of a ranch in Three Forks, Montana looking down at my cameras that had flecks of vomit on them. I tore off my shirt to clean them as best I could, while trying to figure out how to find some of the dignity I had just lost.
By Jim Urquhart
The Holi Color Festival is a yearly event in Utah that for years I have known of but never attended myself. I would be reminded of it after the fact when seeing it in images by other photojournalist friends. It is rooted in a Hindu tradition of celebrating the end of winter and beginning of Spring and takes place at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah.
What makes this festival so amazing is not just the crowds of people and the color but also that it is taking place in Utah County. The same county as the LDS Church’s Brigham Young University. In my mind, Utah County is not known as a mecca of culture and was really only a melting pot of white bread, sugar and milk. I was about to have my stereotype blown away.