photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

The way the land lies

splendid isolation

in Film , Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The latest edition of the online landscape magazine, On Landscape, features an article by Julian Barkway on challenging yourself to climb out of the rut of playing to the gallery and trying to create that perfect, wildly popular Flickr masterpiece. What he has to say certainly resonates with me, although I’m probably several miles further up Cynicism Street than he is. Although I might well see things differently if I were myself a wildly successful babe magnet on Flickr, based on a certain amount of observation and quite a lot of behind the scenes knowledge on content-sharing social websites, I’d say being popular on Flickr (or most other photo sharing sites) has more to do with who you are than what you photograph.  I could - but won’t - name a number of highly talented, successfully published photographers who maintain a presence on Flickr and get almost no “action”.  I could also easily link to others who’s mundane shots regularly gather 3 or 4 hundred comments.  And of course there are talented photographers who are very popular.  The dynamics are complex.

I am going somewhere with this ramble, and it is sort of related but different. Every now and again I dig out old photos, especially those on film, and re-evaluate them, whilst gradually building up archival scans of as many as I can.  And I come across more than a few shots which I’d discarded when they were fresh, because they didn’t fit the template I was looking for. It’s clear that I had a strong bias towards photos that were closer to those from photographers who’s work - and indeed lifestyles - I aspired to at the time. Since I was, even unconsciously, trying to emulate somebody else’s style, basically it rarely worked.  On the other hand, I’m beginning to discover a series of photos which I’ve always been conscious of trying to make but have never been satisfied with, which tend towards a subdued feel with delicate colour and just a touch of ambiguity. 

A bit like this.

Xpan iceland 02 01

The way the land lies: central Iceland, 2006


Posted in Film on Tuesday, May 08, 2012 at 11:24 PM • PermalinkComments (5)


Project Hyakumeizan May 09, 2012 - 9:01
Mmm, thought-provoking: the next stage, after abandoning the blinkers of another photographer's style, would be simply to let the landscape do the talking .... Holding the mirror up to Nature. Now there's an unfashionably Classical point of view....


david mantripp May 09, 2012 - 9:08
Well I think it would be pretty difficult to be completely transparent. There are so many factors involved. Physical ones, like your height relative to another person photographing the same scene. The actual choice of whether to take a photo or not. The choice of format, especially something relatively extreme like an XPan. And then when deadpan actually becomes a fashionable style all of it's own... Scientific, record taking or forensic photography should be dispassionate, and maybe it is - but have you ever seen the book Full Moon ? Possibly the ultimate scientific documentation photography, but clearly all sorts of human factors intervene there as well, not the least the post editing. But it might be a relatively good example of holding up the mirror.


Project Hyakumeizan May 10, 2012 - 7:20
Er...yes: probably it's necessary to hold up that mirror a bit selectively .... 😊


Project Hyakumeizan May 11, 2012 - 8:43
PS: You might want to take a look at hkvam's latest work on flickr. Her images of the Sprengisandur (definitely on the list of places I'd one day like to visit) seem to be moving in the direction you outline above.


Project Hyakumeizan May 24, 2012 - 9:10
If I understand your "subdued feel with delicate colour and just a touch of ambiguity" programme correctly, then the "Krossfjorden" image that just right now happens to be on your front page is a particularly fine example. Maybe it should be included in this post too...?

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