LAS CRUCES – When Las Cruces photographer Wayne Suggs saw a double-rainbow develop against the picturesque backdrop of the rugged Organ Mountains, his camera was already set up, but he was forced to think on the fly.
For three years, he had been trying to capture the hedgehog cacti behind his house in full bloom, in just the right light. But, on April 22 – Earth Day – the skies opened up, it began raining in the desert, and something magical happened.
The photograph was taken about 200 yards behind Suggs’ house.
“I’ve been trying to capture them, all in bloom, for about three years – and with quality light,” he said. For three years, he was never able to get the right shot – the shot he wanted.
“I’d go out there in the evening, and it just wouldn’t happen,” Suggs said. “Literally, for three years.”
But on April 22, all of the right elements came into play. Suggs said he was set up for a horizontal shot but, as the rain began to fall, he was able to adjust and create a vertical shot that he was really excited about. Horizontally, he couldn’t capture the rainbows that had begun to develop.
“Because I did that, I’ve got this huge, mega-pixel file,” he said. “And I can blow that picture up, just ginormous, and have sold it. And I’ve worked really hard to get there. It wasn’t as I pictured it was going to be, but was way better than I thought it would be.”
“I was so excited,” Suggs said.
Suggs has been a photographer since he was 14 years old, he said, but he knew there was something special about the moment he had just captured.
That photo was among two by Suggs that were recently selected by the International Landscape Photographer of the Year contest judges as the 101 Best Photographs of 2020. The annual contest drew more than 3,800 entries this year from around the world. The contest is open to amateur and professional photographers alike.
Suggs, although he says he’s “not a big awards guy,” said it feels great to bring attention to southern New Mexico.
“They put out a book of the winning images every year,” he said. “And when you receive the book – with the images of our Organ Mountains, alongside the Dolomites of Italy, or Norway, or Patagonia, these world-renowned photography destinations – and it’s been in the book two years in a row … you realize how lucky we are to have this in our backyard.”
In addition to the photo of the Organ Mountains, Suggs’ photo of The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in northern New Mexico’s San Juan County was also recognized.
“Again, I’m not a big awards guy,” said Suggs, who has won his fair share of awards. “To me, photography is art, and it’s very subjective. It’s wonderful, and I appreciate it. But I entered this year, and two of my images won. It’s quite an honor.”