on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Tim Blogs – Am I still a landscape photographer ?

Standing in for Joe this issue Tim reflects on how is time is (mis)spent !

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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Whilst wandering around the Patching’s Art Festival last month I was mentioning to my colleague Dav Thomas that I don’t really feel like a landscape photographer at the moment (or any sort of photographer for that matter). It’s true that I’d been on two very rewarding photography trips to Iceland and Scotland in February but apart from that I have been out with my camera only two other times in 2014 so far (and one of those was to test some film at the local church a hundred yards down the road).

Dav said pretty much the same thing - working on his new business ventures (book publishing with Triplekite and campervan interiors with Dubteriors) has stopped him working on his next project completely. It’s frustrating that we both have businesses related to photography and yet the more successful they both are, the less photography gets done. We both made plans to get out together at some point in the future (which will probably get postponed over and over again as another deadline looms).

With a sigh we both walked to the Paul Wakefield talk at the far end of the site and sat down for an informative and entertaining insight into Paul’s background as an advertising photographer. Toward the end of the talk Paul pointed out that after the publication of his books with Jan Morris he didn’t take any landscape photographs for himself for two years!

I asked myself afterward if at this point Paul had stopped being a landscape photographer at this point and the obvious answer was that he hadn’t - it just meant that he was a landscape photographer who hadn’t taken any pictures for a while.

With a small sense of reassurance my wife and I walked around the rest of the exhibition which consisted of many painters either showing off their works or actually demonstrating techniques. It was quite apparent that many if not all of the painters at work their were using landscape photographs as their source material - some of them may be changing the overall structure of the image but they were undoubtedly reproducing material that was sourced through photography. Indeed one of the exhibitors at the Outdoor Photography tent said that quite a few people coming into the tent were trying to find out how to improve their own photography in order to capture better material to paint from.

My last photograph, ironically taking a picture of Mel Foster taking a picture of some sand patterns.

My last photograph, ironically taking a picture of Mel Foster taking a picture of some sand patterns.

Now I didn’t know how to take this - firstly these people were probably taking more landscape photographs than I was (grr!) but they had ruined one of my visions of the landscape painter working ‘En Plein Air’, building paintings directly from nature in a grand Ruskinian tradition.

This was further reinforced upon reading a few ‘guides to painting’ which recommended taking multiple photographs of a scene and “picking the best bits” of each photograph to create a better whole! Scandal!It’s like painters have become the new Photoshoppers of ill repute!

It was reassuring though that there was one painter who was working from sketches done in the field - he was either a traditionalist or had not worked out how to use a camera yet…

I walked away from the experience happier that yes, I think I’m still a landscape photographer after all and that we aren’t that far from many painters after all. I’d still prefer to be a more active landscape photographer - but that’s an ongoing desire for many of us I think.

Do you get as much chance to go out as you’d like? Have you had painters using your photographs as source material or know of painters who are also landscape photographers? Feel free to leave your comments below and get a discussion going.

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