on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

What it meant to me

Developing emotional diversity

Paul Gallagher

Paul Gallagher is recognised as one of the most accomplished landscape photographers and workshop leaders in the UK today. He has been a writer and lecturer in photography for over thirty years and runs both field and printing workshop nationally and internationally.


We all, as photographers, reach for our camera, place in the frame what we want to include in our photograph, and press the shutter button. One thing that is common in all of us is that we did it for a reason. It may have been a moment we wanted to remember, a fragment of time, or we wanted to share something about what we saw on that day/night. One thing that will be common is an emotional impetus that made us do it in the first place. Did we want to show other members or our family or friends? Did we intend to impress someone with our photographic prowess and art, or did we want to shock, as we ourselves were shocked? This is something that we should ask ourselves, otherwise, we may lose direction having never understood why we make photographs in the first place and it is a question that is difficult to answer.

As a young photographer, I recall vividly looking at the work of master photographers and being physically and emotionally stirred by what I saw. It is worth noting at this stage that I was sixteen years of age at the time, and this age is not commonly associated with a deep connection with art as the world was moving at a fast pace and you are enjoying the ride! So it was most certainly important to me. Also, it was not all photographs that I encountered that invoked this response. Some I thought, were at best, fitting into the category of mediocrity, and some, quite frankly I concluded were boring and secured little or none of my time. 

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