on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Thomas Peck’s Critiques

Kilian Schönberger, & the Crooked Forest

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.


Photography can be a frustrating art form. It delights to pose questions and not to provide answers. Take this eerie image by Kilian Schönberger. Why are these trees bent at the base and straight at the top? What is going on? How and why does a tree grow like this? It seems unnatural, a deformity, a challenge to our usually held conception of trees. But it is clearly real – something has happened here that defies our understanding of the natural world. As always a photograph describes everything and explains nothing.

Instinctively we try to supply an answer: weather conditions have forced the trees to grow in this way; perhaps they were farmed like this for some reason of which we are unaware? Once we have worked through possible rational explanations we might go further to wonder whether there is metaphorical meaning hidden in the image. And for me this is the moment when an image such as Kilian’s moves from being merely a descriptive photograph to becoming a work of art.

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