Roger Minick

What motivates people, at great expense of time, money, and effort, to visit famous sites of wonder and curiosity? In the early 1980s, Roger Minick sought to find out. Minick is widely known for his series of photographs called Sightseer that documented tourists visiting national parks across the United States. Woman with Scarf at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park, California belongs to this series and is Minick’s most famous image.

Unlike earlier landscape photographers who primarily were attracted to nature’s grandeur, such as Carleton WatkinsEadweard Muybridge, and Ansel Adams, Minick was more interested in capturing the cross-section of sightseers who visited these historic sites. Created just as he started using color film, the series conveys the irony and humor he saw in the vivid colors and illuminating styles of the sightseers’ clothing, especially when juxtaposed against the surrounding landscape. This image shows a woman with her back to the photographer admiring the breath-taking view—one that happens to be printed on her headscarf that she likely purchased from Yosemite’s gift shop. Her position posed between two crevices also mimics that of the waterfall printed on the scarf. Minick’s image succinctly transmits the awe of encountering something of iconic beauty, the tradition of taking the obligatory snapshot to prove that you witnessed it, and the acquisition of a souvenir to commemorate the experience.

Roger Minick, Woman with Scarf at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park, California, 1980 (detail), from the series Sightseer. Chromogenic pigment print, 16 x 20 in. Edition 7/50. Weatherspoon Art Museum. Gift of Charles Weinraub and Emily Kass, in honor of Nancy Doll, 2019.24.11