Photographer Cody Brothers in Death Valley



BIG BLEND RADIO INTERVIEW:Cody Brothers On this episode, photographer Cody Brothers discusses his experiences and adventures shooting the last four years in Death Valley National Park, and shares how he revisualizes the color landscapes into his trademark infrared photography style. Listen to his interview / download the podcast on,,, or

This past January, the National Parks Arts Foundation (NPAF) hosted Santa Fe, New Mexico based photographer Cody Brothers for the first part of 2020. The artist spent a month working at various locations around the wide-ranging park complex, and stayed and worked in housing provided by Stovepipe Wells Village. Brothers, an experienced black & white analog photographer, also hosted two workshops at the park, followed by an Artist presentation.

Cody has received several grants from the NEA, and Park Service and other organizations to photograph various western landscapes with his visionary style. Says Cody that his years of Death Valley trekking gives him an advantage: “This will be my fourth January at the Park. I already know where everything is that I want to shoot. It’s not a matter of me having to scout out locations. My familiarity with the park and the conditions of the roads, current conditions of the roads and all the things that have been opened recently is really up to date.”

Cody Brothers, born in the four corners area of New Mexico, in Farmington, was raised in Albuquerque and had a unique path to photography. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and then went to Art School in Florida. After this, he learned the ins and outs of darkroom and lab work, and art and archival photo printing at several photo labs around the USA. His photography is analog only, using a 4 x 5 field camera and the unique panoramic Linhof 617 Technorama medium format, often using infrared film to create surrealist landscape effects.

Additionally, what makes Cody stand out as a modern photographer is his completely holistic approach to the art. “I’m truly one of the very last of a breed that actually does his own processing, his own printing, his own mounting, his own framing. I do every step of the process. Every step of the process is done by me from the actual capture to the final product that hangs on the wall. So I really take pride in that.”

Along with his longstanding landscape work, Cody has also been at work on an ongoing project using long exposure pinhole photography in urban spaces in New York and Las Vegas, to get a particular view of urban life. About this he says: “Right now, I’m at the end of a big project that I’ve been doing in New York where I’ve been doing street photography, but doing it with a pin-hole camera. And taking extended long exposures. So it’s kind of like the opposite of traditional street photography where the focus and concentration is on the individuals. What I’m doing there is I’m shooting these long exposures so it ‘ghosts’ the people and the traffic and the people in the traffic are my movement, and the locations are the static depth elements to give the viewer a real vivid idea of the cityscape.”

Though Cody understands that photography has been forever changed by digital images, he doesn’t really see the two in competition, more like they are different paths to achieve a creative vision, though he absolutely prefers the analog path: “Digital photographers are truly taking thousands of images at a time and then they’re going back and editing and finding that one or two images out of those thousand that they just clicked off. Which is just the complete opposite of what I do. I’m not a Hunter, but hunting’s big out here in the West, I kind of compare it to this, digital photographers are going out with a machine gun whereas analog guys like me are going out with a bow and arrow.” See more of Cody’s work at

ABOUT THE RESIDENCY LOCATION: Stovepipe Wells is centrally located in the heart of Death Valley, and across from the legendary dunes of the park. Death Valley was first inhabited by the Timbisha tribe with villages located in different areas of the Valley. One Timbisha village called the Valley maahunu, hunu meaning canyon. Another called it tumpisa or rock paint, so named for the red ochre paint that was made from a particular local clay. One group of miners during the 1849 California Gold Rush dubbed the searing, waterless landscape “Death Valley” upon finally finding a pass through the Panamint mountains and reaching western California. On the heels of the Gold Rush, silver and gold were discovered in the Valley in the 1850s and borax discovered in the 1880s. Mule-drawn wagons and fortune seekers flooded the Valley to extract these precious resources. In 1925, an entrepreneur built the original hotel at Stovepipe Wells. In 1933, President Hoover declared Death Valley under federal protection as Death Valley National Monument. In 1994, it was re-designated Death Valley National Park and expanded to its current size of three million acres. For more information on the history of Death Valley, visit:

NPAF is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the promotion of the National Parks of the U.S. through creating dynamic opportunities for artworks that are based on our natural and historic heritage. Artists may apply with their proposals for this residency and find additional information at The AiR program is made possible through the philanthropic support of donors of all sorts ranging from corporate sponsors, small businesses, and art patrons and citizen-lovers of the Parks. NPAF is always seeking new partners for its wide-ranging artist-in-residence programs.

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