on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Changing Landscapes?

A Look at the History of Landscape Photography

David Ward

T-shirt winning landscape photographer, one time carpenter, full-time workshop leader and occasional author who does all his own decorating.


When Eadweard Muybridge – he of the random extra vowels in his name and inventor of the camera shutter and remote release – made his images of Yosemite in the late 1860’s, landscape photography was an altogether more physically challenging experience than it is today. We may think that we’ve got it hard walking a mile or two from our cars and waiting for an hour or two in the cold in our modern wind and waterproof clothing but we really have no idea how hard it can be. People moan about the weight of a modern DSLR and a couple of lenses but Muybridge and his contemporaries worked on cumbersome wooden cameras weighing up to 20kg. Despite the vast differences in technology, there are many connections between their images and how we make landscape photographs today - especially in terms of what we choose to photograph. Actually, the photographers working in the Western U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th century are largely responsible for creating the photographic landscape aesthetic that we still adhere to today. Even before Muybridge the vista was king, a position inherited from western traditions in painting, stretching back to the landscape works of great seventeenth century artists such as Claude Lorraine and Nicholas Poussin. In fact, the representations of the vista we commonly see in photography are still largely bound to the landscape traditions that arose in painting in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

This is a premium article and requires a paid subscription to access. Please take a look at the subscribe page for more information on prices.

On Landscape is part of Landscape Media Limited , a company registered in England and Wales . Registered Number: 07120795. Registered Office: 1, Clarke Hall Farm, Aberford Road, WF1 4AL