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Colorado Moments in Time, by Grant Collier

Review by Ed Quillen

Colorado Lore – December 2004 – Colorado Central Magazine

Colorado Moments in Time
by Grant Collier
Published in 2004 by Collier Publishing
ISBN 1-59152-012-6

MANY PEOPLE may find it hard to believe, but Colorado has many fine landscape photographers who are not named John Fielder. They may lack his flair for self-promotion, but they can capture images at least as well, if not better.

Among them is Grant Collier of Lakewood, who followed in the footsteps of his great-great-grandfather, 19th-century photographer Joseph Collier, to produce a 2001 book, Colorado: Then & Now.

In his new work, which will fit nicely on almost any coffee table, Grant Collier charts his own course with 161 full-color photos, all reproduced exquisitely on good paper.

As he explains in the introduction, he was on a mission: “It is my hope that the images in this book will lend to the argument that Colorado’s remaining wild places need to be preserved; that open space is critical to our way of life; that our state’s most important treasures lie not in our cities and towns, but in our unspoiled mountains, valleys, canyons, and grasslands.”

His photos certainly do support that argument; they’re all gorgeous, and pore as I might, I seldom found anything produced by humans — hardly any roads, cabins, power lines, even fences. Mostly, this is a Colorado as the Utes might have seen it.

The book is divided into geographic sections. He starts with the photogenic San Juans, but doesn’t confine himself to the mountains — there’s a chapter for the plateau country along the Utah border, and our oft-ignored Great Plains get a chapter. I found myself wanting to find and visit the Paint Mines near Calhan, east of Pueblo, and even a “Wind-blown field near the Kansas border” looked inviting.

Collier gives us some grand landscapes and massive mountains, taken in every season, but also gets close to provide intimate views of hayseeds, cacti, aspen eyes — things we generally walk right by, and these photos inspire closer contemplation of the real thing, thereby making our daily surroundings more interesting.

Area residents will find some familiar scenes here (we’re in the South Central section) — the Great Sand Dunes, Zapata Falls, Collegiate Peaks. But there are also many obscure shots, from both here and elsewhere in Colorado. Collier’s got a good eye for framing a scene, the patience to wait for the right light, and the technical skill to capture it on film, even when it’s something tricky like fog or a double rainbow.

The only problem I have with this book is the one I have with so many collections of stunning Colorado photos — I call it the Playboy Phenomenon. Real women have moles and stretch marks, but Playmates don’t. Real mountains have power lines, slash piles, and road cuts, but picture-book mountains don’t. In both cases, the photos might lead to disappointment.

But that’s just my attitude problem. This is a fine collection that might train our eyes to see things that were always there but had previously escaped our comprehension. After I’ve looked through most photo books for the first time, I don’t pick them up again. With this one, I saw something new on every pass.

It’s worth getting for yourself, and it would make a fine gift — although you might end up with summer company if you give it to an out-of-state relative.

–Ed Quillen