I could hear Doug Johnson’s red Toyota truck humming in the background as we spoke on the phone. He was driving just outside of Spokane, Washington, on his way to Hood River, Oregon, for his workshop, Waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge. I knew he would arrive a few days early to scout locations for the workshop, which is why I called him. I’ve driven past Hood River a few times en route to Portland, Oregon, but I’ve never stopped to check it out, let alone photograph for a whole week there.
“What’s it like in the Columbia River Gorge?” I asked him.
“Oh Page, its awesome.”
I’ve come to trust Doug’s sense of awesome. I’ve assisted his workshops many times over the years and he has an uncanny ability to find some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Given this is what Doug deemed as an “awesome” location I had no doubt that he was driving to place where he would be surrounded by amazing scenery.
“Doug,” I asked him, “would you send me some photos from where you are scouting? I want to see what it’s all about.”
I expected waterfalls or scenes of lush foliage and running water. He gave me that but his photos also show that a location often has much more to offer a photographer than what we first assume. Sure enough the photographs he sent made me want to jump in my car with my camera and make the drive from Missoula.