The sun’s heat cooks up the Sierra’s wild sage surrounding the Mobil mart in Lee Vining, California, as 62-year-old Dean “Bullwinkle” Fidelman looks out at Mono Lake and the White Mountains. He’s waiting for a woman named Jamie to arrive for what he knows will be the last image for his final Stone Nudes climbing calendar, which he’s put out each year since 1999.
“I started Stone Nudes as a path and a way to make my art,” he says of the calendar. “I’ve lost a lot and I’ve gained a lot, but I’m done with that loss for a bit.”
Originally from Northridge, California, in the San Fernando Valley, Fidelman has been a climbing dirtbag since the mid-1970s. For the last 45 years he’s called Yosemite, the Sierra East Side, and Joshua Tree home. Like a journalist on a never-ending tour with a rock band, he’s captured the local hardcore climbing scene and his work appears in film, books, and magazines. To date, he’s produced the titles The Stonemasters: California Rock Climbers in the Seventies (2009); Stone Nudes: Art in Motion (2010); The Valley Climbers: Yosemite’s Vertical Revolution (2012); and Yosemite in the 50s: The Iron Age (2015).
Twenty years ago, after quitting work as a fashion photographer in New York and Milan, he found himself back in Yosemite, 40 years old, and once again living in the dirt behind Camp 4. He knew something had to change. “I asked myself what my most successful photos were," he says. "I came up my old Stonemasters work and landscape and studio nudes. By putting those two ideas together, I thought I could make it work.”
His early Stone Nude shots were taken at the same boulders he captured the Stonemasters on. That first year, and each year after, he printed 1,000 calendars at a personal cost of $6,500 per year. Earlier this year, Fidelman lost his job cleaning carpets in Yosemite Valley, and decided it was time to call the project quits.
To support his final calendar, Fidelman started a Kickstarter campaign, which has already raised more than $7,000. Outside recently caught up with Fidelman to get a few behind the scenes stories on some of his most memorable shoots.