Careful Looking

trunks, photograph

“In every landscape should reside jewels of abstract art waiting to be discovered.”

– Melissa Brown

I used to photograph the landscape around me with great frequency. It was my subject of choice for many years. Living in a scenic area made this easier. Over time, however, I began to feel dissatisfied with my results.

First of all, there are a lot of really wonderful landscape photographers working today – it is very difficult to take a capture the landscape in a unique way. Yes, you can go to different places and wait for interesting light or cloud formations, but even these have become commonplace. And I didn’t feel that I was contributing much to the image, other than being there.

So I began to look for more personal and intimate scenes in the landscape. I began to look within the landscape around me, visually editing in a more elemental way what I saw.

I find that through this scrutiny I am better able to express my intention. The process of looking past what is evident and trying to find the hidden “jewels” in a scene engages me more deeply than just snapping the grander landscape. It allows me to simplify, to decide what not to include, to exercise an “economy of means”, all of which require a more careful looking on my part.

And careful looking is an essential part and one of the great rewards of artmaking.

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3 responses to “Careful Looking

  1. Great post Bob! Timely as well, as I just completed reading Michael Freeman’s book “The Photographer’s Eye”, and he has an entire chapter dedicated to “intent”. In such a point and shoot age, photographers must be careful not to simply shoot in case there’s a shot in there somewhere, but to really SEE a scene for it’s potential, and then prepare to shoot with even a hint of a specific intention… the difference between luck and art.
    Your above image proves this wonderfully! Bravo!

  2. I really agree with this sentiment. I just got a book from a guy that specializes in Macro landscapes. Basically things he finds on forest floors. They are lovely, and not as easy as just walking around and snapping away. But it’s something that can be done nearly anywhere, which is nice.

    Your image in this post is very compelling. My favorite element of this image is the 3d nature of it, the stalks really stand out from the background. Nice!

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