And another thing...
Recently I have been seeing a lot of tweets from photographers showing photographs that have been removed from the long list of the landscape photographer of the year competition. It is absolutely amazing the standard of photos that dont make the cut. Let me be clear, there are some really beautiful scenes that most photographers would be pleased to have captured. People are understandably disappointed not to have progressed further. But here's the thing, they all look the same. No I dont mean they actually look the same, just that they are made in the same way, they have common composition, they contain the same elements, they are processed to look a certain way. There has become a standard template for what makes a good landscape photograph. You can view any number of YouTube channels that tell you how to get the perfect landscape photo and give you a list of 7 things you must not do. All valuable and useful. These may well be short cuts to avoiding disappointment that come on the journey of discovery, but they mean that people start to make photos that look like "the template". It's not everyone, and I am guilty of it as much as anyone. I wrestled with whether or not to enter LPOTY this year, because I know that most people, well most photographers, dont get it when it comes to my particular style. I knew that entering LPOTY was almost certainly a waste of time and money, but in the end I chose to submit pictures that were definitely true to me, such as the ones shown in this post - which were binned. If nothing else I was true to myself with very low expectations.
So what's my problem?
Well lets start by relating some of the things you need to do to take a "beautiful" landscape photo.
And that is the problem.
It is called groupthink. There is a large swathe of photograph takers and viewers that have a set of rules by which they asses the beauty of a photograph, of how to appreciate it and how to convey it. Hence there are a large number of spectacularly good photographers out there, taking gorgeous photos that look the same, because that's how they want them to look. Then when you recognise that you have the elements for good landscape photo, you can be a bit disappointed with rejection and in some cases critical of the final selections. But here's a thing. Listen to people who judge competitions and they will tell you they are looking for something different. They have to look at literally thousands of photos and you can see that when the photography culture has a template for a lovely photo, they are going to see lots of variants of the same thing.
As a photographer you have the dilemma of following the trends, so that the viewers are able to appreciate your work, or doing your own thing and risking being isolated. There is very little critique happening on social media - as was discussed in a blog post by Lensdistrict lensdistrict.com/blog-1/2019/7/2/the-race-to-the-bottom - which means that if people dont like, or dont get what you're doing, you are met by a wall of silence, it's all very polite.
I made a conscious decision to be myself and shoot the things that interest me. I entered LPOTY knowing that my photos would get nowhere - I am not a good enough photographer for a start , but I did have one photo that got held back and for me that was a major boost to my confidence.
I think its fair to say that I am currently disengaged with landscape photography . I think it has a very narrow and prescribed view and that is something I will unpack in a later post.
The photos included here are both from the same location, Grimley near Worcester. They both speak to me personally of special moments when I was there. The first photo has a single tree turning bright yellow in Autumn in contrast to whats around it. The second was a unique occasion of bright illumination from behind me making the usually dark submerged trees brighter than the overcast environment. It was moment I will savour and was lucky enough to capture.