on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Beyond The Spectacular Landscape

The move from images of something, to images about something

Guy Tal

Professional photographic artist, author and speaker working primarily in the Western US.


The most noble kind of beauty is that which does not carry us away suddenly, whose attacks are not violent or intoxicating (this kind easily awakens disgust), but rather the kind of beauty which infiltrates slowly, which we carry along with us almost unnoticed, and meet up with again in dreams; finally, after it has for a long time lain modestly in our heart, it takes complete possession of us, filling our eyes with tears, our hearts with longing. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Like many of my peers, I was first drawn to photographing the natural landscape after seeing spectacular vistas of wild looking places featured in coffee-table books and glossy magazines. The natural world fascinated and inspired me since my earliest memory, and seeing such images sent my imagination soaring. I wanted to see these places with my own eyes; I wanted to journey to those imposing mountains, to those vast deserts, to those craggy coasts; I wanted to float those great rivers and to push my way through those dense verdant forests; I wanted the adventure of hiking and climbing and paddling and encountering natural wonders in the raw, without fences and walls and windows, without signs and tour guides and the buzz of human machinery; and I wanted to make images as impressive as those I’ve seen in publications. As I matured, however, I found more and more reasons to pursue a different kind of photography—intimate, nuanced, subtle, thoughtful, at times abstract—which I ultimately came to appreciate as more satisfying than the pursuit of grand vistas and eye-popping colours.


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