on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Kyle McDougall

Featured Photographer Revisited

Kyle McDougall

A Canadian cinematographer working his landscape photography in the beautiful Muskoka area of Ontario.


Michéla Griffith

In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.


In this issue, we’re catching up with Kyle McDougall, who Tim interviewed for our Featured Photographer series six years ago. At the time, Kyle described himself as a landscape photographer and was finding himself drawn more towards the intimate details of nature. At the same time, he was happy to follow whichever path his photography took him on. There were, in hindsight, hints… Kyle talked about the importance of creating images for himself, of the experience, and of stripping ourselves of pre-conceived ideas and rules. Over the last three years, Kyle has pursued a more contemporary form of the genre, sparked by a year-long road trip across North America, and he now describes himself as being driven by a fascination with society, time, and our ever-changing environments. He’s also been working solely with film.

Our ‘Featured Photographer’ interview with you was published back in 2014 and there have been some significant changes in your photographic practice and output since then. We obviously want to talk to you in detail about ‘An American Mile’, but perhaps you can set the scene for readers by telling us a little about how you came to move away from nature photography? (You’ve referred to creative burn-out, and it taking a while to both get past this and to recognise that you needed to move on from those things that had previously held your attention?)

First off, thanks for inviting me back to talk about my work. And yes, a lot has changed since then.

In 2015, after focusing purely on traditional landscape photography for the previous ten years, I started to struggle to create work that I was happy with.

In 2015, after focusing purely on traditional landscape photography for the previous ten years, I started to struggle to create work that I was happy with. It didn’t seem to matter what the location was, or how amazing the conditions were, my experiences and images were lacking the excitement that was so present throughout most of my career.

It took me a long time to accept things, and for the next two years, I basically forced myself to try and get through the ‘creative burnout’ that I thought I was experiencing.

Looking back now, I’ve realised that I was having a hard time removing the label that I’d put on myself. A landscape photographer is what I knew myself as, and I figured that’s what people expected me to be. I was essentially stuck inside a box that I’d created and I was hesitant to make or share any other type of work.

I ended up getting to a point where I decided I had two options: Quit photography entirely (which I considered on multiple occasions), or, move on from my old work, follow my curiosity, and focus on whatever truly excited me regardless of how I thought it may be received.

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