Lake Tahoe based photographer Rachid Dahnoun headed north to Lassen Volcanic National Park, a park in Northern California that is home to volcanic summits that have lain dormant for the better part of a century. Rachid was hired by the National Parks Conservation Association to compile a series of photos that encompassed the vast landscapes within the park. Each volcano was as tumultuous as it was picturesque; steep climbs and unpredictable weather made Rachid’s job that much harder.
Rachid was given three days to complete his project, which would accompany an article about the park that was already written for the National Parks Magazine. Having read the article prior to the shoot, he was able to visualize exactly what needed to be documented. Despite being given a “rough draft” of what needed to be shot, Rachid was given complete creative autonomy. This was the kind of shoot, he says, that you wish upon a star for.
In true Man vs. Wild style, Rachid camped in the park for the duration of the shoot. The client wanted photos of all possible weather conditions and from all times of day, which meant Rachid was staying up all night to shoot and napping at different points during the day. The weather while he was there ranged from extreme heat, to heavy rain, to inches of snow, which meant he was able to meet the magazine’s wish of capturing a variety of conditions. Clear skies would quickly transform into rain clouds, which would quickly shift to blinding sun, so Rachid was constantly guessing which condition would be next.
On the final day of his shoot, Rachid had to reach the summit of Lassen Peak, the southernmost volcano in the Cascade region and home to some truly humbling views. This was actually a climb he had made back when he was fifteen. This time, however, he was greeted by six inches of snow and thirty-four-year-old legs. Fueled by passion and armed with the idea that age is just a number, Rachid reached the summit in time to grab exactly the shots he wanted.
At the end of the three days, Rachid had a collection of photos that suggested he had stayed there for a year.
Volatile weather and irregular shooting schedule aside, Rachid ended this shoot on a high note with the photos and their reception.
I received emails from people across the country who thanked me for opening their eyes to this lesser-known national park.
Check out more work from Rachid at rachidphoto.com.