Tuesday, September 18, 2012
A Trek In The Wind River Range
David Muench returns to this special area and experiences it anew. The great landscape photographers constantly refresh their vision by exploring familiar places as if for the first time.
Does putting effort into getting into the wild landscape allow for an understanding of how the land itself offers the shot? Is the photographer who makes this kind of effort more apt to be supportive of protections for wildland than the photographer who never leaves the road? Are there ethical considerations for the photographer of wilderness, the photographer in wilderness, that are different from those getting a shot from the road? Perhaps the Leave No Trace motto, "Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs," was written by a photographer.
Because I write about wild country, I'm often concerned my writing can bring more traffic into little used areas. I try writing about places without giving them away, especially remote places where few people visit. Do photographers feel the same obligation? I'm pleased every time I see a photograph that doesn't name the place (no matter how much I want to go there!). Yet, how often I see endless photographs of one place by multiple photographers. Is the oft-photographed place sought after simply because it's oft-photographed? Is the place everybody goes the place everybody else wants? Do photographers gathered in front of some roadside icon feel a responsibility toward the land itself? Or is the icon merely to be used?
There is, perhaps, a precedent here. Artists through time have used nature to create their work and the landscape has always been a lure. Painter Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson, using nature as their subjects, were essentially responsible for the creation of our national park system, their work convincing the U.S. Congress that Yellowstone was worth protecting. Much later, Ansel Adams photographs helped create Kings Canyon National Park.
See more of David Muench's photography at www.muenchphotography.com.
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