Shooting the landscape or let’s play follow the leader
I think that I photographed my first landscape when I was in my late teens. That would have been in the late sixties or early seventies.
Of course there was no internet to see what kind of photos were being taken at the time. My choices were limited to coffee table books or magazines. Being a teenager I didn’t have much in the way of disposable income so I spent plenty of time in the library poring through both.
The most difficult thing in the arts is not the execution of what you do but rather the conception or the creative process. It is easier for a technically proficient painter to copy the Mona Lisa than it is for them to create it. And that is also how it goes for landscape photography.
Not every egg that a salmon spawns produces an adult. The creative process is like that. You grow creatively through both your failures and your successes. Over the years I have probably edited thousands of other photographers photos to be used in layouts. I chuckle when I read the term professional because it conjures up images of every shot being a keeper. That is the farthest thing from the truth. Before the days of auto focus and auto exposure cameras it was unbelievable how many images were technically bad. Today’s cameras have made photography that much easier in technical terms. What all the microchips and sensors cannot do is make you a better artist.
We still have to learn that the old fashioned way through trial and error. A photographer just starting out will usually see a photo that they like and make a conscious effort to copy it. I think that is the easiest and quickest way for most of u. It’s kind of like taking batting practice. You keep swinging at the ball in practice getting your timing down until you have enough muscle memory to start playing the game.
That’s how you get your training wheels. Do that enough times and you should be good enough to ride the bike without anyone or anything holding you up. When you’ve reached that point is when the fun really begins. It’s time to spread your wings and express your creativity in your photos. Or is it?
I see an ugly trend on some of the photo sharing websites. Many long time photographers, established photographers are playing the game of monkey see monkey do. There are more followers than leaders. More technicians than artists.
Many, many years ago, I bought myself a 17 mm lens for my slr. I loved the look that it gave my landscapes. One weekend I was out ice fishing. It was early in the winter. We had enough cold temperatures to freeze the local lakes but very little snow had fallen. What snow that was on the ground had been blown into the bushes and off the lake. What was left on the lake were all kinds of incredible shapes and bubbles in the ice. The transparent ice held thousands of cracks. I put the fishing on hold, grabbed my camera and spent the morning with my face pointing downward.
Until a year ago I had seen very few ice photos like this on the internet then this winter like a bad cold they started appearing everywhere I happened to go or so it seemed. WTF? It wasn’t as if all of these people accidentally started seeing the same way, no, it was that they all started copying one another. There’s nothing wrong with copying someone else but I think that when you pick up your camera your intention is to create.
Remember what I wrote about the Mona Lisa? Banff National Park is a large national park. Besides it being right on the trans Canada highway, why is it that so many photographers will drive hundreds and thousand of kilometers and end up photographing Mount Rundle and Vermillion Lakes? There are more beautiful and unique spots in Banff. Maybe this is just my nature, needing to be different. Since I started visiting Banff as a toddler and now as a fellow in his late fifties, I have never once taken a photo of Mount Rundle. There always seemed to be a better place to go.
The copy catting is good up to a point. If your goal is to produce photos like everyone else by all means find your favorite photographer and mark down on the map where they have taken their pics and get out there. Pay for a photo tour or a workshop and I can practically guarantee that you’ll come away as a better copy cat than an artist.
I understand that not everyone feels the way that I do. I have not felt the need to conform in fact part of me is rebellious. Tell me that I cannot do something and that will probably motivate me to do it so when I am shooting landscapes a part of me, a large part of me does not want to be a part of the mainstream.
Right? Wrong? I dunno. Only you can decide how far you want to take your creativity. Play it safe or live on the wild side. If you’re not taking photos for the adulation and “likes” of your fellow internet photographers the choice is easy.