Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Tutored By Nature
Fellow landscape photographer Tom Till describes why David Muench is one of the greatest living photographers and why his work stands the test of time and remains inspirational
At the same time, a whole generation of Baby Boom photographers, a decade younger than David and raised like him in American national parks, began to notice this new way of expressing their love of the natural world. Did we copy David? The short answer is yes. Certainly, he was the major inspiration for all of us. In my case, living in the small town of Moab, Utah, without a mentor or a teacher, obsessively studying the work of David Muench, Eliot Porter and Philip Hyde was my photography college. People like me, Larry Ulrich, John Fielder, Jack Dykinga, Willard Clay and dozens of others took up the 4x5 camera because of him.
Keeping up with David was a challenge. No one worked harder and spent more days in the field, although many tried. He climbed every mountain and hiked every canyon, creating a body of work that most likely never will be matched in size, quality and scope. Not content to shoot just in the West, David traveled and worked extensively east of the Rockies in the Appalachians, the Heartland, the South and New England throughout his career.
And there was no question where David came down on environmental issues. Like Adams and Hyde, he made his imagery available to environmental groups whenever asked, and his written statements deftly express his concern for and dedication to preserve what he was shooting.
This spring, I was lucky to be in the audience for a day-long presentation by David in Salt Lake City. It was his first speaking engagement in the state that he had captured so well both on film and digitally over the decades. Seeing his 4x5 images on a big screen and hearing his stories was the glimpse behind the curtain that inspired everyone in the audience. With great humility and humor, David talked about the subjects he loves: bristlecone pines, rock art, toprock of soaring peaks and narrow slot canyon defiles. Approachable and friendly, if David comes near your city, his program is not to be missed.
See more of David Muench's photography at www.muenchphotography.com. You can see more of Tom Till's photography at www.tomtill.com.
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