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Monday, April 6, 2009

Landscape Masters Through Time

Photography’s greats must find philosophical constants while embracing change

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“It’s important to reach people and not just do it and get your work completed and put it in the closet,” he says. “I really have a strong need to impress people with the importance of our landscape. That’s where the trick is: to make it impressive, or important, so people will take note or feel a need to either take care of it or to be a part of it and need to bring us back to where we came from.” These days, Muench is concentrating on showing a wilder landscape. In lieu of returning to over-photographed locations, he’s now venturing farther off the beaten track.

“I’m leaning more toward showing wildness,” Muench says, “rather than beautiful and dramatic subjects. Harmony needs yin and yang both; the opposite is some of the chaos, some of the rough-hewn kind of subjects—logs and streams, fallen things… To show the sense of wildness that is not necessarily just me seeing subjects that are beautiful that might be wild, but really to look at wilderness and to look at wildness. It used to be the bold and the dramatic; I wanted to impress you. It was evolving all the time. I’ve gotten much more intimate subjects; work with the intimate so that it connects.”

masters masters masters
The top two images give a sense of Muench’s continued evolution as an artist. The newer image uses the arch as a shape echoing the mountains behind it compared to the the older image with the “keyhole” effect. An older image that shows the more typical Muench near-far composition.

Muench has used a 4x5 camera to connect with landscapes his whole career. He may be well established in the film world, but he doesn’t discount new tools. “I’m 72,” he says, “but I feel very strong in a forward way. I don’t like looking back; I’ve always looked forward. Most of my work is 4x5, and it has carried that way through. I have now progressed—or digressed to the dark side—with the digital work. Because what it has offered that is new and gives me another layer: the spontaneity of responding to the landscape. It is just great; it’s really fun. But is it serious enough yet? I don’t know. I’m still going to mix the two and probably work with both. But it is coming right there. So don’t put me down in there as someone to stay with film or not go digital—because that’s the way it is. It opens up new opportunities.”

Muench continues to shoot mostly with a 4x5 and film, although he does also use Canon EOS digital cameras now.

To see more of David Muench’s photography, visit www.muenchphotography.com.


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