One cannot talk about landscape and nature photography without bringing up the Greats in the genre: Ansel Adams’ mastery of tone and composition; John Shaw’s eye for color, pattern, and juxtaposition [a style of my work]; and the much-imitated framing of Eliot Porter and David Muench.
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Nature can be beautiful, but is it art?
I recently spent some time in Panama. The photos in this post are some examples of what I shot there. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t really take a lot of shots and most of the imagery is of nature and landscapes. The excuse I take for not shooting more is that we were constantly on the go. I saw so many photo ops, but I just couldn’t stop the car, particularly in Panama City [an absolute horror for drivers]. The subjects I wanted to shoot were the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty and the impact of Man on Nature. Such things are more interesting to me as a visual statement. The rules for fine art imagery still apply; it’s not just about documentary or editorial content.
Panama is a beautiful place and I couldn’t help being awed by some of the natural things I saw. So I did shoot them, but it just doesn’t compare with the real thing. An image of nature for me, has to be unique, ‘abstract’, or conceptual – a heightened visual experience. It’s very difficult to improve the wonder of nature by throwing a frame around it. I suppose I have a prejudice – or, maybe I should say that I have a preference for other subjects. Perhaps the proliferation of nature as fine art is what bothers me; or, that ‘pretty pictures’ sell better…