From his humble beginnings in Australia Peter Lik has gone on to become arguably the most well known landscape photographer of our generation. Along with growing recognition of his name, Peter Lik has helped put the already famous Antelope Canyon on the map as a must visit travel location, a location which is visited by photographers from all over the world.
Peter Lik’s most famous Antelope Canyon photographs are without question ‘Ghost’ and ‘Phantom’, a black and white version of Ghost, which sold for $6.5 million USD, securing the prize for the most expensive photo ever sold.
A quick search for Antelope Canyon photos will bring a limitless selection of landscape photographs, all of varying quality, and all somewhat resembling the photos Peter Lik took in Antelope Canyon. It may of course be reasonable to assume there are thousands of wanna-be photographers running around Antelope Canyon trying to replicate Peter Lik’s work, that assumption may be misguided though.
Peter Lik was not the first person to photograph Antelope Canyon, and he certainly won’t be the last. The reality of photographing the Canyon is that it would actually be tricky not to produce a photograph at least somewhat similar to Peter Lik’s.
Here's How Photographing Antelope Canyon Works
The slot canyons of Page, Arizona are on Navajo lands and access is strictly controlled in order to minimise damage to the area and preserve the lands and their history. A number of Navajo guides operate in the area and access is by tour only, more specifically, if you wish to take a camera and tripod into Antelope Canyon you will need to book a photography tour.
Like many famous landmarks around the world access is restricted and there are really only certain areas in which you can set up a tripod to take a photograph. You guessed it, these are the same locations Peter Lik set up in the shoot Ghost/Phantom.
But What About Peter Lik's Ghost?!
Peter Lik’s shots of Antelope Canyon are famous for their ethereal ghost like light beams penetrating the Canyon and creating an eerie figure. Again though, the photography tours are timed specifically so that they take place at the exact time of day that the sun is at the right angle to enter Antelope Canyon. The tour guides throw fine sand into the air, which when illuminated by the shaft of light create the Ghost like figures. Again, helping your photographs to resemble a Peter Lik knock off.
So Photographers Aren't Just a Bunch of Copycats?
There’s no arguing the fact, Peter Lik’s images have inspired many photographers to visit Antelope Canyon to bag their own version of ‘Phantom’, I have however seen photographers come under attack however for shooting something similar to Peter Lik’s. Before passing judgement though it’s really important to remember that just because Lik’s images became famous that doesn’t mean he was the first to come up with the idea of photographing slot canyons and capturing beams of light… one could argue that all it really means is that he was the best at marketing himself and his photos. He certainly did this well!
At the end of the day Antelope Canyon is a beautiful place, a spiritual place and simply a great place to photograph, whether you’ve acquired the fame of Peter Lik or just love taking landscape photos, it’s a place worth visiting.