photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

David Ward - Landscape Within

in Book Reviews , Thursday, September 15, 2005

david ward - landscape within - book cover I don't quite know how I missed this book. I am an avid reader of landscape and nature photography books, and I had a passing, chance encounter with the author, David Ward, last year, but I missed it. Clearly Amazon's "you might like this" algorithm needs some tuning. I was actually sent it by a friend, Icelandic landscape photographer Daniel Bergmann, how himself had discovered it apparently because I mentioned David Ward to him. My brain clearly needs some offline maintenance.

Anyway, let me say it up front. "Landscape Within - insights and inspiration for photographers" is the best book on landscape photography I have ever read, including classic stuff like Ansell Adams "Making of Forty Photographs". What is special about this book is that the author places landscape photography in an extremely convincing artistic and critical context. David Ward is a gifted photographer, but is also a highly erudite and skillful writer and communicator. Whilst his enthusiasm for his subject is clear, he remains objective, and manages to fit a remarkably complete and cohesive story into relatively few words. It's a fairly short book, but not too short.

Although he quotes many sources, his own voice comes through, and what you end up with is a strikingly well argued manifesto for the artistic and social importance of landscape photography. The final section on semiotics is worth the price of the book alone, and here as well he adds his own twist.

The icing on the cake is the inclusion of a set of simply fabulous photographs, which, rather than carry heavy captions labouring some point or the other, are largely left to tell their own story - following the philosophy which devolves from the text.

I just hope that David Ward's skill as a writer and educator does not eclipse his work as a photographer. The few words I exchanged with him when our paths crossed last year, when he was very busy giving his full attention to a workshop group, indicated to me that on top of all this he is a thoroughly nice human being.

You can see some of his photos here, but to be honest, they deserve a far better web site. Whatever, buy the book. If you are at all interested in the real meaning of landscape photography, you will not regret it.

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