on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Autumn River

An Alternative Viewpoint

Philip Brittan

Photographer

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Any photographer who chooses to make autumn their subject faces the significant problem of distinguishing their work from the heavy weight of photographic precedent. With so many images of autumn produced each year it is perhaps inevitable that a strong element of cliché cloaks the whole area. Is it possible to make work which lifts autumn into mystery and strangeness, enabling us to look again at the season with fresh eyes?

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In the autumn of 2012 I made a series of images with some of the millions of decaying leaves that fall into the River Frome, in the southwest of England, and are carried, like brightly coloured jewels, along its length every year. Looking back at my notes that accompanied the research for the project, it is clear that, in part, I was motivated by the challenge of attempting to say something fresh about such an endlessly photographed subject as autumn.

I was motivated by the challenge of attempting to say something fresh about such an endlessly photographed subject as autumn.
I wanted to find new ways of visualising autumn, to show something that had not been seen before and, hopefully, to stimulate the imagination through a celebration of the wonder of the autumn season. But my research notes also make clear that I was focused on creating images that engaged with the cycles of life, and also with memory – so many people have intense memories of the autumn season.

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The literature about autumn is full of descriptions, not just of the beauty of the season, but also of the complex ways in which the landscape deeply affects our moods and stimulates memories; of the many ways in which we use the metaphor of place to develop our thoughts and understand who we are. Writers, of course, also invariably reach for autumn as a metaphor to talk about the passing of time, and issues of loss and longing.



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