Tuesday, April 1, 2008
A Matter Of Perspective
Frans Lanting takes to the skies to give a different look to Canyonlands
"It’s extraordinary," he says of the experience. "It’s like hearing Beethoven in your ears when you’re flying over those landscapes. The genesis of this body of work was two assignments I did for National Geographic. The first was to provide an aerial view of the Colorado Plateau as a whole, and I followed it up with the ground perspective that was published as a separate story. These two separate assignments take the opportunity to examine landscapes that are justly world famous and have been covered by many photographers over the years. It was a fantastic opportunity to see these amazing landscapes for myself."
Lanting experienced the landscapes for the first time as a photographer in 2003 when he commenced the aerial assignment. He spent months in the field over the course of three years, returning at least six times during different seasons. Most surprising is that the Dutch-born photographer had lived in the United States for decades without ever photographing Canyonlands.
Though Canyonlands is a photographer’s dream, Lanting was in search of something more than pretty pictures. He didn't want only to remake great photos; his goal was to define the region in his own terms.
"It was quite a challenge," he says, "because it’s not like going to some remote part of the world that has never been documented before. To come up with a new perspective, it wasn’t easy to avoid the overlooks and the other vantage points and the great panoramas. Many of the classic images have been made from overlooks and parking lots in national parks. They’re grand scenes, but I wanted to get a little deeper into the landscape, and with the aerial views, I tried to come up with landscapes that were more like patterns than recognizable landscapes. On the ground, I tried to do that by looking for more intimate views than the overlooks or the so-called scenic views. That gave me a perspective that helped me to organize my own thinking and discard a lot of beautiful scenery because I was looking for something else."
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