PAGE, AZ (ARIZONA HIGHWAYS TV) - Leroy Dejolie is a native of Page, Arizona and has made it his life's work to photograph and chronicle his Navajo people and their heritage.
You may recognize his photographs, they have been regularly featured on the pages of Arizona Highways Magazine and in Arizona Highways books.
He is on a mission to capture his people on film to ensure they younger generations never forget traditions.
Many would say the landscape in Page is just the barren desert. But Dejolie has learned to look past first impressions.
"Navajo land is more than just a beautiful and wondrous landscape we see in the southwestern corner of our country. Navajo land, in all reality, is a spiritual location. It's my job as a Navajo, to be able to conserve and preserve this landscape."
Dejolie's stirring photographs do more than preserve vanishing landscapes, this native son is creating a pictorial legacy - an homage to the land and the Navajo, the D’nei.
"Any time and every time I'm out in Navajo land photographing the vast landscape out here, there seems to be a cleansing ritual that actually happens between myself and the landscape, there's a spiritual connection that I see out here."
Dejolie, who is largely self-taught, is now teaching his wife, Shirley. They own a 1902 8x10 Rochester and a large format Deardorff, made in 1952 - the same model Ansel Adams used.
Almost all of Dejolie's pictures are taken in what he calls the sweet light. It's that 45 seconds of the day when the sun reflects a warm glow on the dunes, the mesas, the mountains and even on the people. Also called the magic hour, it happens in the early hours of dawn or in the golden minutes of dusk.