Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Masters Of The European Landscape
On photography, wilderness and the differences between continents
It’s true that Western Europe doesn’t have vast tracts of wilderness comparable with those in the American Southwest, but we do still have pockets of wild land. Since my images are often intimate, rather than expansive, a “pocket” is usually plenty big enough to provide me with material! I should point out that I like wild places for the opportunities they provide to capture formal purity rather than as symbols of wildness—of nature separate from man. My photography is often more about an exploration of form and space than about describing subjects in a literal way.
See more of David Ward’s photography at www.into-the-light.com
In Europe, we landscape photographers have a pretty close relationship to each other, and we’re sometimes even going out shooting together, but we never take the same images. In the U.S., as I know it, professional photographers rarely go out together, but still shoot the same objects over and over again.
I was shocked when I visited Utah’s Delicate Arch in 1990. Arriving as a tourist, I had seen the arch in a brochure and I thought this would be an interesting spot to visit and perhaps take a shot of. When I arrived at the site, about 50 photographers were lined up to shoot the sunset light on the arch. I immediately realized the hopeless situation and how naive I had been. I went straight down the mountain without taking a single photograph. From then on, I’ve tried to find my own spots, where I can create my own compositions.
My style of taking pictures has changed over the years. In the beginning, I didn’t have any style; then I gradually started to shoot wide-angle landscapes with big foregrounds in the classical American style. Nowadays, I tend to go more abstract with my photography. My recent aerials from Iceland are an example of that style.
In Europe, on the other hand, we’re not blessed with such a number of iconic landscapes. We simply have to look for other ways of taking pictures. Personally, I find great pleasure in shooting intimate landscapes. Wherever you are in the world, it’s possible to find magic in a few square meters. These intimate landscapes become your children, and you’re the sole maker of your compositions.
The northern tip of Sweden, Finland and Norway, the Arctic and Iceland [are my favorite destinations]—Iceland is the most fascinating place I’ve ever been. It’s actually very similar to the American Southwest, but much less photographed. Since 2000, I’ve been there every year to take pictures.
See more of Hans Strand’s photography at www.hansstrand.com
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