No Apology Necessary

October 26, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

WEST SIDE STORYWEST SIDE STORYFollowing a chilly spring, early summer kicks off with substantial snowpack remaining

Western Slope - Teton Range
Alta, Wyoming
The nature photography community can be very opinionated, which is fine - but some of the things people have to say come across more like pronouncements. When that happens it's important to remember these are simply points of view, not immutable rules. Your opinion counts, too. 

One example is the great debate over grand landscapes vs intimate scenes. These days, the "big landscape" has its share of detractors (though, it should be noted, the viewing public continues to enjoy such images).

Not content with "it's just not my cup of tea," some assert that there is no way a grand landscape can be anything but uninteresting and derivative. The implications are obvious.

It's gotten to where some photographers who appreciate and capture grand landscapes are almost apologetic about doing so. I attended a seminar a few months ago at which one of the speakers - an accomplished, respected nature photographer - began his talk with a disclaimer of sorts ("I'm going to be showing you a lot of grand landscapes") followed by a justification of the subject matter.

I'm not disparaging smaller scenes; far from it. I shoot both big landscapes and more minimalist compositions. It just seems crazy that this is even a "thing."

In the world of photography, there are more opinions posing as statements-of-fact than you can shake a stick at, many of which are contradictory.

Only shoot during the golden hours.
Sunrises and sunsets are overdone; they’re
nothing but clichés. 
National Parks are overphotographed; they're nothing but clichés. 

Don't waste your time on storms; those types of images aren't popular.
Grand landscapes lack originality. 

And so on, and so on.

What bothers me is that aspiring photographers can begin to second-guess themselves after being exposed to enough such assertions. They start to self-edit when choosing locations or selecting subjects or composing shots. Some become so deflated they consider abandoning photography altogether. It's a shame.

My two cents?

There is always room to grow as an artist. It's a lifelong process, and you can learn from and be inspired by other photographers. Advice, ideas and suggestions are useful. Different schools of thought are beneficial and can provoke thought.

Dismissiveness, though, is not helpful. ("Grand landscapes are boring. If you're not making intimate images you're not being creative.")

There's a difference between information that's offered to help you make better photographs and "my way or the highway." Tune out the latter.

Be yourself. Work locations that you find interesting. Enjoy the experience of being in nature. Connect with your surroundings; let the landscape be your guide. Photograph what speaks to you. Compose the shot in a way that most effectively conveys that emotional connection. 

No apologies.

By the way, if you're drawn to grand landscapes, Ansel Adams was, too. You're in good company.

"We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium."
Ansel Adams


Odds and Ends

Yellowstone closes to vehicle traffic on Tuesday in preparation for the winter season. There have been some temporary road closures in the park over the last several days due to snowfall, but high-pressure is moving into the region later today which will - hopefully - improve road conditions until it's time to bid farewell to the geysers until 2023 (unless you're lucky enough to be going in over the winter - the best time of the year in YNP). 

The Inner Loop in Grand Teton NP between the Taggart Lake trailhead and Signal Mountain also closes on Tuesday.


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