on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Thomas Peck’s Critiques

Dan Burkholder & the Impressionistic art of the iphone

Thomas Peck

The real pleasure of photography is that it forces me to slow down and really look. That’s never easy in our rushed world, so a chance to stop, look and see is truly valuable.


Back in 1973 John Szarkowski made a comment about photography that has only increased in resonance in recent years: “The simplicity of photography lies in the fact that it is very easy to make a picture. The staggering complexity of it lies in the fact that a thousand other pictures of the same subject would have been equally easy…” Now that everyone carries a camera on their phone, and it is so easy to share images (350 million new photos uploaded to just to Facebook every day…), individual vision and imagery are swamped. Any sign of a new style or look is immediately copied, then formulated into an app, to be endlessly repeated with little thought or care by millions of snap-happy iphoneographers. ‘Serious’ photographers look on askance, muttering darkly about how photography is degenerating into cliché…

But this is a mistake. We are doing iphoneography a disservice. If art is about being able to communicate one’s personal vision, then the technical medium is but a means to an end. It’s the final image that is important. Take Dan Burkholder’s iphone photograph of Bridge near Catskill as an example. What do we see, and more importantly, what does this image make us feel? The subject matter and composition are relatively mundane. A river runs through the image to a bridge. The wooded banks form triangular shapes pointing to the bridge which accentuate the feeling of depth. The vignetting allows the eye to be drawn through the picture to the light sky behind the bridge.

Distant Bridge, Catskill, NY

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