Grand Parent

Nature photography is just part of Laurence Parent’s nature. The 37-year-old Austin-area resident, who took the pictures that accompany this month’s article on Hueco Tanks State Historical Park (“ Social Climbers ”), has long been known for his landscape work, from wildflower close-ups to desert vistas. “My father was in the National Park Service,” says Parent, who grew up in New Mexico. “Maybe that’s why I love the outdoors.” A former petroleum engineer, he switched to photography during the mid-eighties oil bust (“If I was going to starve, I was going to starve doing something I loved”). That passion can be dangerous, however, as Parent learned on his trip to Hueco Tanks. “I wanted some dramatic shots,” he says, “so I hiked to a three-hundred-foot cliff. Then a roaring dust storm hit. I had to tie myself in, and because of the wind, I couldn’t hear the rock climbers down below; we had to gesture. They didn’t want to come up—no surprise—but they finally started, and by then I was losing that nice afternoon light. So I’m hanging by my toes and one hand, trying to take pictures with the other, and the sand trashed my camera and I tore the rotator cuff in my shoulder. But I got my shots.”

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