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Monday, August 1, 2005

Stretching The Landscape

Where is landscape photography going today? How might we as photographers find new inspiration and approaches to this classic subject?

Stretching The Landscape

When it comes to tradition, landscape photography ranks up there with mom and apple pie. Photography got its start with landscapes as subjects since they remained motionless during the long exposures needed. As exploration of places like the American West began, landscape photography showed the world what these regions looked like. It was landscape photography that helped stimulate the formation of our national park system. Talk about traditional values!

What about today, though? Is landscape photography a remnant of the past as some critics have complained? Is our world over-photographed so that there's nothing new to capture with our cameras as certain social critics have written? Where is landscape photography going and can it still make a difference for photographers and even our world like it did in the past?

Dewitt Jones and I have discussed these and other photography issues over the years. We believe that landscape photography definitely has a great future for our readers and there are many opportunities to create fresh and compelling imagery. Recently, we took some time to specifically talk about landscape photography today for this landscape issue of Outdoor Photographer.

Rob Sheppard: Dewitt, there has been a lot of discussion about landscape photography not changing, how it might not be adapting to new needs of our world. How do you respond to that?

Dewitt Jones: Obviously, landscapes don't change much from year to year. The Tunnel View at Yosemite will always be Tunnel View at Yosemite, short of some huge earthquake. Then there's a tendency among many photographers to endlessly copy the traditional masters of landscape photography simply because the landscape Ansel Adams photographed can be photographed again today.

Yet I believe we live in a time with more creative possibilities due to many technological changes. We can do much more than be visual scriveners who just copy the scene with our cameras if we allow ourselves to play in the creative realm. That can lead to both new ways of seeing as well as enriching our traditional work.


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