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Mark Metternich wrote:
I get what you are saying. The way I see it, we need to be true to ourselves. Anyone who knows me knows I have never been and never will be a literalist/purist! I see photography as art (and if it wasn't I would not do it). So, I wont argue how perfectly literal this is. That also goes for all my favorite photographers and friends who inspire my own work. People like Adamus, Ryan Dyar, Alex Noriega, Chip Phillips, Myles Morgan, Kah Kit, Ted Gore, Chris Moore many others... So, I am at peace with saying...Show more →
I agree that there is a room for a wide range of interpretations of the landscape. Certainly against the backdrop of landscape painting, what we do with photographs seems generally less "liberal" with the true nature of the subject.
One tricky thing with landscape photography is the baggage of "realism" that photography carries with it. Photographers understand that "all photographs lie," and that a photograph is always an interpretation on some level. Yet...viewers who have not seen this place or places like it may imagine, because they are looking at the ostensibly "truthful" photographic representation, that they simply have not been lucky enough to see a landscape that looks like this one looks, and that the photographer somehow is able to seek out and locate real scenes and events that are there but which are so special that no one else ever experiences them. Indeed, this is a spectacular place. But, as well, those who see the photograph could go there on the same days when you were there to make your exposures... and they would not see a scene that looks like what you have created through your extensive post-processing.
I'm not offering an opinion about whether this is a good, bad, or indifferent thing... but I do think that it is important to confront the relationship between what viewers may think the photograph is presenting to them and what the photograph actually represents... and perhaps also our own role in encouraging certain assumptions about photographs and what they show us.
Also, a bit of caution about attributing ways of seeing to membership in a "generation" is in order. Consider two of my favorite "classic" black and white photographers, Adams and Uelsmann. Both are certainly not of a "new" generation, but both used processes to manipulate their images in post-production (albeit optical/chemical post!) that were at least as extensive as those used today. Also, take a look at the wildly diverse work of Huntington Witherell, which ranges to "old school" classic "west coast landscape" black and white photography to wildly imaginative color manipulations of flora subjects that morph into imaginary landscapes. The old is new and often the new is old.
(For my part, I'm quite comfortable with photographic processes that go much further with the manipulation of images than you or the others you mention tend to go. The tricky thing for me about some landscape work that does this is that it can either claim or allow the viewer to assume that the image represents a reality about the landscape when it actually does not. Highly abstract landscape photographs that say "this is not how it looked and you shouldn't think it is" (a la Uelsmann) are one thing, while similar images that allow or encourage the unaware viewer to imagine that things actually look this way are another.)
(For reference, folks can google "coal mine canyon")
Edited on Apr 08, 2014 at 05:03 AM · View previous versions