Personal Landscapes

I once read a really good article on intimate landscapes – put simply, the concept is that you isolate a part of the landscape and make a series of photographic studies of it, I guess in a similar way that Monet painted seemingly endless pictures of haystacks.

Since then, I have become fascinated by the idea of creating your own personal landscapes whereby using the above techniques, you are interacting with a very small abstract part of the environment. The resulting photographs have as much to do with the relationship between you and the subject as any aesthetic. Looking at this a little more esoterically, surely there are positive health benefits as during this interaction with the landscape, you are becoming at one and therefore must gain a sense of peace and well-being from this exercise, well at least I felt like I did. If I had the time (and money) I would like to explore this potential more and possibly write a thesis but life always gets in the way of such ambitions!

Whilst studying photography, I discovered two artists who’s styles I’d say have greatly influenced my outlook, Ralph Gibson and André Kertesz, Ralph Gibson in particular appealed to me. He works mostly with his Leica and a fixed focal length lens which I believe is 50mm, the equivalent of what the naked eye sees. My tutor would tell me stories about how he would manipulate himself into positions and vantage points to overcome the limitations of using the one lens, in fact for Ralph Gibson using the one lens wasn’t a limitation at all – it allowed him to get close to his subject and study details in a way he may not have been able to otherwise. By-the-way, I’ve never actually read anything to substantiate this, I have only been told this by my tutor so I hope he’s right!

Going back now to the idea of the personal landscapes and combining it with the methodology used by Ralph Gibson, I set off with my camera and a single 35mm lens (the equivalent of a 50mm lens in old-school photographic terms) to make studies of an aspect of the landscape that always moves me, the sea.

Though it’s debatable whether the resulting photographs have any major visual appeal, that’s not actually important – what IS important is that to me these photographs have a personal meaning and if anyone else is able to understand this, then so-much-the-better. having said all that, I’m going to show them off anyway 🙂


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