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Thread: Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
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    Anchorage, AK
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    273

    Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

    Some years ago I spent some time in Navajo Monument Valley with a Navajo guide whose first name was Thomas. He seemed quite atuned to working with photographers. Unfortunately, I've subsequently lost the file with my information about his guiding service.

    Has anyone used a guide in Monument Valley that they particularly liked? If so, would you please share the information?

    Thanks, Bruce

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 1998
    Posts
    405

    Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

    They swarm on you at the visitor's center like black flies during a Maine summer. Those who approached me seemed to be aware of what photographer's are looking for.

  3. #3

    Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

    The comment about files is really appropriate. They are all over the place. Here is the problem..... you are NOT a normal photographer. YOu use a tripod, take forever to set up a shot, and carry your camera in a padded container. YOu wish to keep dust and sirt from your camera. Basically you ( WE) are a pain in the you know what. The guides are used to the shoot from the car, don't use a tripod, quick and dirty 35mm user. YOu will run into problems unless you get the right driver. There was an article in one of the photomags, I thin it was Phototechnique, that lited the specific name of a driver to use. If you can find the reference, I would approach him in advance.

    The only way you are allowed onto the area other than 9-5 (?) normal hours is with a driver. You are not allowed to go anywhere you wish in your own car. You must stay on certain roads, and no off road stuff. The local drivers can provide you that service. I beg to repeat, you can not get all the shots without a driver. Getting the right driver is important. YOu may hire him by the trip or by the hour. Take the hour deal, that way he will not be in a rush to start the next group, and cheat you out of twhat you want. I also suggest that you bring representative images that you would also like to see. He can figure out the place, but without the photos, it will be hard to properly descrube the shots you have seen, and would like to be taken to.

    There is only 1 hotel really close, Goldings. ( Gouldings?),. A bit pricey. There are many lower cost hotels in the general area, if you do not mind driving 1/2 hour to get there. Also, the reservation has a camping area right there at the visitors' area that you can take a spot at. Camp fees are probably low. Yes, they have bathrooms, but I doubt if they have showers. The visitor center has a restaurant. Not a great restaurant, but it will provide sustenance.

    Enjoy, it is a wonderful place.

  4. #4
    Steve Sherman's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    Location
    Central Connecticut
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    370

    Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

    Bruce, I've lead a number of workshops in the area and anytime in Monument Valley we hired a guide by the name of Fredrick Cly. Took all day tours with his guides and then he and his wife arranged a full course steak and chicken barbeque at the end of our shooting day. Some of us ran late shooting while he and wife had food prepared and waiting. They never rushed us just took care of us first rate. On top of all this his father (name escapes me now) actually guided all the early photogs through the valley in the 40's, including the big fella, Ansel. He is an outstanding gentleman and first rate guide, we used him 4 or 5 times. Good luck, Steve


    Real photographs are born wet !
    www.steve-sherman.com

  5. #5

    Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

    Steve.. do you have contact info on Mr. Cly?

  6. #6

    Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

    Call The Monument and they will be more than happy to provide the names of competent guides who will give you good service. I take offense at the analogy of black flies swarming you. These are men who have families to feed and work in an environment where there is little other work for them. Most take you seriously if you show them the same courtesy you would like shown to you. The Monument has rules which all have to abide by. You might look a little deeper at the way many "tourists" treat them and realize that if this is what you do as a living day in and day out, you become a little calloused. But when you find someone who treats you with the respect that should be afforded you, you are more than likely to give better service. I have used a few guides and this is what I have found to be true.

  7. #7

    Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

    Bravo James for taking a stand!

  8. #8
    Steve Sherman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Central Connecticut
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    370

    Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

    Frank, When we were using his services I seem to remember he lived in Mexican Hat, Utah. I remember him telling us the schools were better there for his growing kids. I have an old brochure listed as Fred's Adventures Tours pH# 435-739-4294. As I remember this is his home so don't be surprised if you hear kids in the background. We did use another guide service once before we met Fred, he is the best! Hope the number works out. Steve


    Real photographs are born wet !
    www.steve-sherman.com

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Location
    Baraboo, Wisconsin
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    7,697

    Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

    I've used two guides in Monument Valley. The first I obtained just by walking up to one of the stands outside the visitor center. I paid (in advance, that's the only way they'd do it) for a half day that was supposed to begin at noon. When the guy hadn't shown up by 1:00 I started asking other guides in the area how I could reach him. Of course no one knew who I was talking about, had never heard of anyone by that name (even though his stand was right next to theirs), etc. etc. Lots of "jokes about "Navajo Time" while I stood around and the day got later and later. Finally he showed around 4:00 and we raced out in his jeep to try to get something in the dwindling light. We managed to get to one place (the teardrop rock that you've seen on the cover of at least 10 magazines) and I made about ten photographs there before dark. So if you end up resorting to hit and miss at the visitor's center, good luck, try to avoid paying in advance.

    The second one was found through someone I met at a workshop and the guy was great (though expensive). Unfortunately I don't have any contact information for him but he and his brother were both guides and worked out of the area around the visitor's center. His brother was an albino and there can't be that many guides who have albino brothers who also are guides so if you don't get any better recomendations from others you could ask around the visitor's center. He took as to the highest peak in Monument Valley where we camped out over night and so were able to catch the evening and morning light, he provided the camping equipment, fixed a nice meal, and was a super nice guy to boot. I'm very sorry I can't find contact information for you but it would be worth some inquiry around the visitor's center if you can't get contact information on a reliable guide from someone here or elsewhere.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  10. #10

    Navajo guides in Navajo Monument Valley

    I would bet that if you contacted someone from Arizona Highways or Steve Simmons, you could find the perfect guide. Give it a try.

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