Monday, 31 March 2008

Contemporary works

Red rock, green rock, Northumberland, March 2008
(I'm clearly no geologist)

Doug Stockdale's has been on the search for the definition of "contemporary landscape photography". There are interesting posts on he subject at Rich Gift of Lins and The Landscapist.

There is still a lot of the big boulder, big scene, Velvia saturation school of photography (the wow crowd). A lot of it is very successful, commercially. But I think this debate is about those that are getting away from the pictorialist styles. It was interesting to hear that many Digital Dawn participants regard Joe Cornish very highly ("a genius", "wish I could do work like that"). Personally, I don't care for it, although I recognise the quality of the work.

I think there is a move (back) to more naturalistic, low key, intimate work in reaction to this. I say "back" to this style because Eliot Porter (a pioneer in colour landscape photography) doing this work decades ago.

There is also a branch looking at the man-made landscape and presentation of juxtaposition of the natural and the artificial. This is where all of those urban landscape photographers fall, especially the large amount of work looking at urban decay. (On a side note, I coming to the view that urban decay photography is actually uplifting: it shows Nature taking back her own.)

I think it is about artists finding many ways to present many aspects of the world around us, not jut the "great outdoors" and the National Park visions. The "contemporary" aspect is about creating tension in the work to provoke thoughts about the environment, rather than the old method of showing the glory in the hope it would be revered.


  1. I really enjoyed this post. I have been thinking about this subject most of this weekend. I favor street photography but during the long rainy season in Costa Rica it's not practical to shoot the street and i turn to nature for subjects, preferably wet. It's a challenge to shoot nature in an original manner and i am sick to death of the (waddyacallit?) HDR landscapes that look like hell just broke out all over some barren landscape where sky and earth get equal treatment, all dark, gloomy and tormented. Ok, i think, what else can you show me? I am going to follow the links you've provided here and see if i find some answers to my question. By the way, your colors are wonderful, so calming, real and settling somehow. Things are as they should be. I like that. Thanks.


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