So, yesterday I halfway read this blog posting that made it on Petapixel "Will the Real Landscape Photography Please Stand Up." It struck me as the in general frustrated that there are so many amazing photographers out there taking so many amazingly similar shots. How do you be unique in a world where there are millions of people just like you? How do you make a difference in your world?
Fence in rural Nebraska June 2014
And I looked at the gorgeous landscapes that you see on sites like 500px which I only learned about through reading photographer blogs such as Petapixel, I only learned of this page recently. I'm not too serious about worrying about what the other landscape shooters of the world are doing. They really don't matter to me.
Another problem is that I am seeing a growing trend of conformity in landscape photography. I could not recognize any one of those photos and tell who the photographer was, but at the same time they could have been attributed to any one of the many photographers who are very popular on social media.
There is this prevalent style in landscape photography that aims to capture the viewer with dramatic light, strong composition and bright, saturated colors. I can definitely see why people like it, but I personally don’t like it anymore. (Cei)
I think the type of shots our author is speaking of are these gorgeous dramatic landscapes that take your breath away...
Something golden, a photo at the right time of day in the right landscape. Something that you have to edit until you are convincing your audience that it was straight from your eyes to their screens.
I've only recently allowed myself to be sucked up into the world of photographers. Photographer bloggers, Rockstar Photographers, and people out to make money off of the industry of photographer. The money to be made from teaching workshops or mentoring those new photographers who desire to gain skills, knowledge and eventually income from their "passion." I've only recently learned about names like Leica, Hasselblad, and Zeiss. I've only recently started reading about "medium format cameras," and all things technical that go with it.
I have mixed feelings about this world. I learn from it. It's interesting, yet, it's competitive. Everyone has something to sell or desires some benefit from passing on their knowledge and hard work. Too many want all the answers and a shortcut on how to be a great photographer.
So perhaps my first four years of photography, before I truly learned technical skills and about lenses was better. When the body of my camera was the most important thing to me and I didn't have a clue about lenses. I did know that I "needed" better lenses but didn't quite understand what I needed them for when I really loved my 18-135 lens that came with my Canon 7D that I purchased in 2011.
Yet, making money from doing something I enjoy is great. But, it's not everything. I think all the practice I do with shooting and all the work on this blog is business or has business potential, but not everything in life is about money.
Swingset in Winnetoon Nebraska
I consider myself a "real landscape photographer" - I may not be on fancy websites, I may not be selling workshops to the next sucker with a DSLR (So I can continue to travel the world and sell what an amazing person I am), I may not be spending thousands to rub noses with people who think they should be teaching me how to be a better photographer. I am not constantly trying to compete with other photographers or sell my landscapes. But, I love shooting landscapes and new places. Anyone can photograph a national park or national landmark, but not everyone spends their time on the backroads looking for the obscure beauty in the ordinary.
Rural South Dakota- June 2014
I like to do photography to step away from the world around me, not to worry about how other photographers shoot. I don't care if everyone I know has a DSLR they won't pursue photography like I do. Not everyone thinks the plains are beautiful.
To be honest, much of what I see every day on 500px is much, much better than the pictures on that slideshow and I realize that I am being too harsh here. But then again, I don’t see any of the photographer’s emotions and mood conveyed through some of these images and, to me, this is not art.
And yet, I love this guy's post on landscape photography. I "get" what he is saying that so many photos just look like beautiful, cookie cutter, screensavers, they aren't personalized or incredibly unique. But as I pull my images together to post them right now I'm looking through that day's photos- the day we were in Nebraska and ended at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our last stop was the Falls at Sioux Falls. I don't think my emotions are conveyed in my photos of the falls. It had been a while since I was that far north, we were there to visit a place that I had written about in my graduate thesis. This post also goes back to the argument of the art of photography.
Yet probably looking at a waterfall probably creates the emotion of awe- at the natural beauty. But, in reality for me when I was at this place it created anxiety and fear. I really didn't like the falls at Sioux Falls.
But, I get why people chase the dream of their own business. I get why photographers want to share their skills by teaching workshops. I get why people want to make as much money as they can from the craft.
The assumption that it only has value if you make money from it - is part of the problem with America. That I'm only happy doing photographs if I'm making money. The answer to my problems are more customers. I do believe that real landscape photography is not about selling prints, or making a dollar. I think it's about finding yourself in a place and time that you know not everyone will experience and taking it home and sharing it.
Now the close up photo of the falls wasn't too bad, but I really hated the observation tower. So I was two hundred feet above the falls. I don't know why this place bothered me as bad as it did, but I don't like rushing water as it is. I really do not like waterfalls. Yes, they're beautiful, and I'm sure this is an easy place to take great photographs, but I was ready to leave.
My opinions of "emotions" in photography are different. I believe photographers can use an image to create an emotion. I believe emotions are in photography but they are open to the interpretation of the viewer. I can create emotions with photographs that may not have been a positive experience for me. Often I post photos where the outcome is beautiful or dreamy yet, emotionally that may not have been my mood. The beauty of the medium is I can still go out and get a great shot or a great portrait shoot when it I am not in a great mood or don't want to be there.
But I understand, if you can't see my mood and emotion how would you understand my emotions; Probably through the music I was listening to that day. My photography doesn't reflect my emotions, I've gone out and taken photos on the days when I didn't want to exist, but they gave me a reason to want to continue living.