Ian Ruhter
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Monument Valley Story 2014

Monument Valley Story 2014

My Dad once told me if there is something in your heart that you believe in and you close your eyes if you can see it has to exist somewhere some place in time. It would be impossible for you to see it if it didn't exist.

As he told me this I remember looking at an old blue plumbing truck and wondering if I should be doing this. I thought to myself I have never built a camera let alone one that was going to create the world’s largest wet plate collodion images. I invested everything I had on a vision and I had reached the point of no return. I remember a moment of silence passed between us and then suddenly my dad grabbed a saw and I picked up a hammer. We started gutting the inside of the truck. A few days passed and before our eyes was a mountain of scrap metal wires, even the kitchen sink, sitting in the driveway. Before I knew it, the day had come. It was time to attach the lens to this truck and transform it into something I was hoping would be a camera. I had no idea what was going to happen. We stepped inside of this giant dark box and opened the lens. Our eyes started to adjust and all of a sudden the most vivid image of the outside world was projected in 360 degrees around us. I realized I was not just looking at an image I was standing in the middle of it. We were literally part of it.

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I remember talking with him about taking it to Monument Valley when it was finished. We spoke about how amazing it would look through the lens of this giant camera. We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting inside of this giant camera daydreaming about this monumental first trip. It appears that life has a way of altering these dreams. So‐called real life was happening and years had past. I had made two attempts to visit Monument Valley and something always prevented me from doing so. I had almost given up on this dream.  

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Then with a strange twist of fate I received an email saying, “Hi, I’m a producer working on a piece for the Travel Channel and we wanted to see if you were interested in shooting a piece with us in Arizona.” As we began discussing the shoot I realized complete strangers were going to help me get to Monument Valley. I could've never imagined it was going to happen like this.   

As the result of the two other failed attempts I was a bit skeptical, while we were driving out there. The next thing I knew we're parked on top of a ridge looking through the lens at Monument Valley. This was such a surreal moment. Outside of the truck was a gigantic sandstorm, people were running around trying to take cover yet while I sat inside the truck I saw the same image from the daydream my dad and I shared in his driveway. These images are a testament that our dreams do exist somewhere, someplace in time.

This journey would not of been possible with out the help form my family and friends: Mark Ruhter, Lauren Vance ,Will Eichelberger