on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Landscape and Abstraction

Thoughts on the Subject of Landscape

Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish

Professional landscape photographer. His personal website is www.joecornishphotographer.com/



In spite of my suspicion of competitions for photographers, I have still been coerced into a number of assessment committees and judging panels. So many competitions are there that, as in our judicial system, even the unwilling must serve in the jury eventually!

Yet ‘judging’ pictures is also a terrific learning experience. One of my observations from this is that landscape photography is almost uniquely hamstrung – in competitions anyway – when compared with other genres of photography, in lacking a ‘subject’.

Imagine you have to choose between three brilliant pictures: a landscape; an animal; and a person (or people)…even for those of us who love our field of work, it is close to impossible to by-pass our conditioned response that humans are more important and more interesting than anything else. And animals evoke our empathy, sense of wonder, and also have the ‘cute’ factor to sway the audience. Thus, in open competition, landscapes are rarely ever better than worthy also-rans.


Yet ‘judging’ pictures is also a terrific learning experience. One of my observations from this is that landscape photography is almost uniquely hamstrung – in competitions anyway – when compared with other genres of photography, in lacking a ‘subject’.



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