There's more to a landscape than an iconic vantage point
By William Neill
"How long the road is. But for all the time the journey has already taken, how you have needed every second of it in order to learn what the road passes by."
—Dag Hammarskjold, Markings
When I first started making photographs, I was an avid backpacker. I was energized by my explorations and the beauty I saw and wanted to share my treks with friends and family. As with anyone starting out, my photographs were beginning efforts. My subjects were the mountains of Glacier National Park, which are full of photographic potential, but my enthusiasm for my subject matter far outweighed my ability to convey the emotions of my experiences in the images.
The main excitement of making my photographs was in showing where I had been. I was 19, I had fallen in love with being in the mountain wilderness and I felt like everyone should see its magnificence! So initially, it was the ability of photographs to illustrate my adventures that got me hooked on photography. Any deeper motivations for making my photographs were unknown to me at that early stage. I was content to make descriptive snapshots as excuses to tell my friends stories about my backpacking trips.
Not long after my first efforts in Glacier, I moved to Yosemite and began photographing in earnest. As I became more serious about my photography, I photographed Yosemite intensely and photographed all around the country, mostly in other national parks and well-known landscape-photography destinations, such as New England. I also traveled to photograph in India, Tibet and China. Slowly, as my skills developed as an artist, I found that I was always finding exciting images, no matter how far from home or the road I was. I began to put less emphasis on how exotic or remote the location was and more emphasis on cultivating the perception to find beauty near at hand, where others would pass it, and then to photograph it uniquely.
I've been told that many of my favorite Yosemite images look like they could have been taken anywhere, that they don't immediately say "Yosemite." It's true that the icons of the park aren't a focus of mine. Instead, for nearly 30 years, I've happily photographed the park's more intimate details. Hopefully, I've captured images that others might otherwise have missed.