These days, I'm drawing my inspiration from the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson and painter John Singer Sargent as much as I am from Ansel Adams—perhaps even more so. And although these artists had little or nothing to do with nature, I find their unique artistic visions to be a refreshing way of approaching our natural world. Art—any art—achieves its greatest expression when it's infused with a mix of outside influences. Photography is no different. I find myself taking baby steps into a broader world of expressionistic photography, and I encourage you to proceed more boldly than me. It's up to you whether you want to stick with the existing tradition or color outside the lines, but you'll never know which is best for you until you explore your options.
And I think that Adams, rebel that he was, would agree.
Ian Plant is a full-time professional nature photographer, writer and adventurer. He's a frequent contributor to Outdoor Photographer and the OP Blog. He's also the author of instructional nature photography books, including the critically acclaimed Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition, an artistic tour de force spanning several centuries and different artistic media in its quest to reveal the composition secrets of the great masters. See more of Plant's work at www.ianplant.com and at outdoorphotographer.com/blog.
Pictorialism Vs. Group f/64 Modernism Pictorialism: The photographer abandons "straightforward" photography in an effort to create an image rather than simply recording it. "Proper" sharpness, clarity and exposure are secondary (or even unimportant) to the Pictorialist. A photograph is a vehicle for projecting mood, emotion and the photographer's own artistic vision. Arguably, the Pictorialist offers a more impressionistic view of the world.
Group f/64 Modernism: Clearness, definition and sharpness are primary important elements to this artistic paradigm, as is a more "traditional" or faithful rendering of subjects. Real-world objects can be art, in and of themselves, and a simple presentation, without the photographer imposing too much of his or her own aesthetic on the subject through the use of artistic contrivance, is the best way to show the subject.