Monday, January 26, 2015


Greene County, Virginia 

Last week Mike Johnston sparked quite a discussion on The Online Photographer concerning "scenic" photography. (Read it here and here.) Mike says:

"Scenic photography sometimes seems to me to refer to itself more than it does to the actual places photographed. It's almost like the places themselves are no longer experienced for what they are, but are reduced to their status as photo opportunities."

Many questions were raised. What is the distinction between scenic photography (what I call calendar photography), and landscape photography. What information can and should a photo convey? How important is context?  What is the role of beauty, and is beauty alone enough to make a "good" photo?  How about the the emotion of the photographer when the picture was made? Can that feeling be passed on to the viewer?

This past Friday morning I went down to the dam that forms the small lake where I live. I stood on the dam and my eyes followed the recently graded spillway past the trees and into the farm beyond. Went back home and got the camera. The picture is not particularly beautiful in a "scenic" way, and is unlikely to end up on any glossy calendar page. But it is a place familiar to me, a place close to home that I saw with fresh eyes that morning in the pale winter sunlight.

Like most photographers, I attempt my share of "calendar shots," but the photos that please me and keep me wanting to photograph are the ones that capture something that I can't quite articulate, and that perhaps no one else sees.


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