LINDA COVEY- MUSE OF THE DESERT
Article by Mina Thevenin, Editor
Photography by Linda Covey
Coyotes yip and call to one another when day breaks on the Arizona Sonora Desert. At 4:30 in the morning I walk just fifty or so yards into the desert, careful not to brush against any cactus, when a lone coyote in hot pursuit of a rabbit bounds to a stop directly in front of me. Startled, we simply stare at one another. Can he hear my heart pounding in my chest, I wonder? The rabbit long gone, disappears in the brush and the coyote trots on, breakfast plans spoiled. I fumble a little too late for my camera and lose sight of his path ahead of me in the dimly lit dawn of first light’s purple and pink .
LINDA COVEY- MUSE OF THE DESERT
(click on any image to view as a photo gallery/scroll mouse over image for copyright details)
It was August of 2014, and I had just met American photographer Linda Covey the previous night for an evening sunset photo shoot. Long sleeves, jeans, hiking boots, and a fanny pack with photography supplies, needle nose pliers for accidental cactus run-ins, two cameras- Nikon D 300 body with the 18-300 mm Nikkor Lens, not to mention the big welcome smile for me, her photography guest. A short trip to the west, I signed up for two photography tours at the Boulder’s Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. This is where I had the opportunity to meet and photograph the fantastic Sonora Desert’s flora and fauna with the resort’s photographer, Linda Covey, for both sunset and sunrise photography. Meeting her, I knew right away, Linda Covey knows the desert.
At the age of seventy-four, Linda has learned the artful skill of embracing light in photography. “The interaction of light and subject is the most important thing in photography. Check out some of the great works of art. They were so fantastic with their use of colors and light. Light defines everything in life. It creates contrast. Highlights. Mid-tones. Not to say a cloudy day is bad. But first light (morning) and last light (sunset) produces the richest and deepest colors in outdoor photography.”
Now, just months later, Linda agrees to sit down with me over the ease of cell phone and digital correspondence to further explore her photography, her art, and her ever growing love for the desert- all of which is self-taught knowledge of desert life, its vegetation and animals, through research and nature hikes with Arizona park naturalists. She shares with me her photography heroes, those who have left a profound impact on her, and even perhaps have helped her to shape her own photography as well. Studying Linda’s work, there is a style that is uniquely all her own. Peppered with hints of iconic influence that flavor her strengths of basic photographic values, as found in light and subject composition, she uses these to photograph the everyday scenes of desert life. The result is the creation and value of artistic photography.
Linda Covey studied art and photography in college and was an instructor in the California school system in the 1970’s, even climbing the business ladder by becoming top sales executive for magazines in the building industry. Prior to all of that, her family of husband and three children had her as their stay at home mom for thirteen years, when Linda invested her energies in traditional child-rearing activities, such as scouts, camp-fires, and the annual church bazaar where she artistically contributed her time and talents. All the while not ignoring her love for photography, she nurtured her budding interest in 35 mm film and knew that it was beginning to blossom, “Yes, …my own darkroom in our California house. It was a special room in the garage with an air vent so the fumes wouldn’t make me ill. I used to expose the neg, dump the photo paper in the ‘soup’, and run inside to the kitchen and try to get dinner going for my family – then run back out and switch the photo in a rinse. I could juggle many tasks at once back in the day.”
Moving to the North West and moving on from a divorce, Linda continued with her photography passion, doing portraits and covering local events. She also landed a position in television as an anchor weather person. Linda truly embodied a modern woman and during a time in American history when people had strong opinions about whether or not women should work or stay at home, Linda chose the former. In our conversations together, Linda shared with me about her admiration for the photographic works of Annie Leibovitz and “her creative assertiveness”.
Being assertive and creative is not only a good description of Leibovitz, but Linda describes herself in this, as well. In the 1980’s Linda relocated to Arizona, and began to put down roots into the Sonora desert landscape. On her own, and truly coming into her own, Linda settled in the north Valley and married her high school sweet heart, Larry, who is now a retired Sacramento, California Fire Captain and local hero.
Covey Creative Images became her officially registered photography business in 2005. Area businesses were taken with her award-wining photography, coming to light through numerous photography competitions, which she was winning. Linda’s work as a photographer was becoming her mainstay. Then in 2007 the Waldorf Astoria picked up her photography when she was working with a designer and hired her to develop and run their unique guest experience- a Sonora Desert Photographic Tour. The photographer, Linda Covey, was definitely creating and expanding her photography talents.
“Cameras have been in my life since birth,” Linda reveals, identifying American fashion and portrait photographer, Richard Avedon’s work and “his connection to the stars,” to be in line with her, she tells me. Linda relays a story about how Marilyn Monroe, who was then Norma Jean, married into her dad’s family. They all shared Sunday dinners together and Norma Jean even held Linda as a baby. So the fuel for Linda’s coming into her own had roots in show biz long before she was born. Her dad was a naval photographer and rubbed shoulders with celebrities such as Bing Crosby and Joe Lewis. He even “met up” once with Ansel Adams in the Sierra Nevada! Linda was used to being featured in the local newspaper in “family” portraits that her father shot for events and holidays. And she benefited from the popular attention from classmates by turning it into her own confidence builder. Photography talents benefited not only herself, but her children and grandchildren today, as well. “I was blessed with a pretty family,” and Linda has been photographing family for years, so they are used to her with a camera around.
Currently, Linda does a number of the professional head shots for her grandchildren who are in show business today. I asked Linda about the photographers who have inspired her the most. She rattles off several names of iconic photographers most important to her own work- Dorothea Lange, Robert Capa. Photographers who documented life’s suffering through the timely capture of portrait images during grievous times of despair and war.
Over the years Linda has compassionately photographed several friends, clients, and loved ones in the very human process of death and dying, including her own mother. These images, which are in private collections, are done with the mindful intention to honor and record the last months, and finally the sacred passing of the body. Through such compassionate documentary photography, Linda has been able to portray death in the intimate light of honor and to perhaps dispel fears about our own inevitable death and dying. Linda’s revelation about it now? “Death did not frighten me.” She adds, though not as an after thought, “Recording images of family members so I can document their lives- [is] to leave their footprint behind for the unborn. It is so important, to me, to remember all those who went before us, because we are part of them.”
Ultimately, though, Linda finds her love of nature photography to be most representative of her own work. She is memorized by all things nature- from the outstretched dancing arms of ancient Saguaro Cactus and their sheltering home to its birds and bees, to the edible
desert flora and her growing knowledge of desert life. Photographing the Sonora desert life Linda delights in the basics, photographing simple things- like a creosote bush in just the right evening light. She shares its plant information and its historical importance to indigenous people.
Then she adds her own personal insights about the goodness of how it smells after a rain. “There’s always been a rush to capture something beautiful or interesting to me. I see so many people going through life not really seeing what’s around them and I can’t resist remarking how pretty something is and drawing their attention to it. Must be the art teacher in me.” It must be the muse of the desert, Linda Covey.
American Photographer Linda Covey
Contact Photographer Linda Covey for freelance assignments. Images are for sale online in her gallery and website, COVEY CREATIVE IMAGES.
See more Linda Covey images in these other Photography World articles…