Finding your niche in landscape photography

impressionism

As with food, music or any of the arts there is no right or wrong. What you like is what is right for you.

I started a group on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/groups/landscape_exhibition/) eleven years ago because many of the landscape groups there were either not to my taste or were more about being the most clicked upon photographer.

The group many years later has over 24,000 members and over 40,000 photos of which I have moderated each and every one. During a normal day the group will receive from 400 to 800 submissions of which only a half dozen or so are admitted. Does that mean that the other 99% are bad? Nope, not at all. It means that the photos not accepted are not to my taste and it is as simple as that.

Your photographs whatever they might be of should strike a chord deep within you. That is what is important. What isn’t important is what I or anyone else thinks about your photos.

Your value is your uniqueness. Nobody on this planet has the same experiences and feelings as you. It is those experiences and feelings that contribute to how you see the world around you.

Back in the late sixties and early seventies when I was just becoming interested in photography I would visit our local library and check out the books that I found most interesting. The first photographer that resonated with me was a large format colour photographer named Elliot Porter. He would dutifully drag a large format camera across the American southwest and faithfully document what HE saw. The important word in the preceding sentence is “he” because you or I might visit the same place and come away with completely different images.

I loved Porters use of colour, his tack sharp photos and realistic details. Porter influenced me more than any other photographer early on but as we change our tastes change.

From the ultra realistic images of Porter I became a fan of David Muench who also used large format cameras to photograph the American southwest in colour. The difference between the two photographers was stark. Porter was very much the realist while Muench almost hammered you over the head with bright colours and wide angle images contrasting near/far.

Neither photographer is better than the other.

We all have an evolution in our art. I am almost embarrassed to admit that early on in my second try and landscape images I over processed many HDRs to the point that I cringe when I look at them today. They are all on Flickr but hidden from public view. For me they are a reminder of how I am changing.

I hope that what I have photographed this year will look very different ten years from now.

Looking back on the past few years of my images there is a constant in the ones that I like the best, if I could put a word to them it would be impressionistic. I know what I like when I see it or when I start to process and image and many times what is in camera looks very different than the final image.

Impressionism from Google is, “a literary or artistic style that seeks to capture a feeling or experience rather than to achieve accurate depiction.”

A feeling. That is what is most important to me when I photograph. It isn’t about the most  realistic representation of what I saw it is about what I feel when looking at my subject.

For me there needs to be a connection based in reality. For example it can’t be so exaggerated that there is no way that it is possible to have existed but through processing I get the feeling or look that I want.

Sometimes these images are broad sweeping views of the prairies or other times like the image above they are small vignettes of what I see.

The landscapes that you capture and create should touch a part of your soul. If they don’t then continue to move forward and explore and experiment.

Moderating a large group like I do on Flickr serves a purpose. It exposes me to the possibilities that are out there. Maybe something that I see today will open a door for me to create in a way that I never would have thought of.

Landscape photography is so much more than bringing back photos to sell or hang on your wall and it is up to you to find out what that is.

Happy shooting,

Dan

 

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~ by Dan Jurak on December 12, 2017.

2 Responses to “Finding your niche in landscape photography”

  1. I have been following your photography and blog for many years now. Your post processing has gone north or north-east. I lived in Edmonton for few years and I saw the best sunrises and sunsets there, way better than Calgary.

  2. Hi Ravi, not sure about the sunrises and sunsets in Calgary only because I never take pics there. I usually drive north or north east from home to take pics but am not sure about the processing part. Thank you for following and commenting,
    Dan

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