Under the influence

26/09/2014 - 15:38



I like to think that as photographers of the landscape we are all influenced both consciously and sub-consciously by a multitude of things we have seen for the first time with our own eyes and by photographs; paintings; music; poetry & prose; geological, adventure and wildlife films; sculptures and literature created by others. Our own landscape, nature and adventure sports photographs, I feel, are influenced our own life experiences, current emotions and the influences we have had through the people who have inspired us along the way. We may have, beyond formally or casually studying art and design, been inspired for our love of nature from friends, family, teachers, outdoor education instructors along the way – people who have seen our curiosity and nurtured us with their enthusiasm, shown us ideas, imparted their knowledge and sparked in us a desire to expand our knowledge. Some of these things resonate deeply within us in quiet moments and others are there in the back of our heads, half-forgotten for now.




An octogenarian woman, who was an enthusiastic fan of the arts came along to see my week long solo exhibition in 2012 and I was most touched when she asked if she could have a chair to sit upon, “so as to rest my tired legs and gaze upon your delightful photograph of the Red Barn” after twenty minutes of rest and studying the canvas print she came up and said “it is without doubt like a Constable painting, I can’t imagine he would have painted it any different if he were there at the same moment as you… it is a beautiful moment”. She reserved the canvas and was still as enthusiastic about it at the end of the week when I delivered it to her.



‘Emsworthy Barn’ – early morning light on an autumn day falling upon the barn at Emsworthy Mire and Greator Rocks beyond. This photograph won 1st place in the ‘Winning Landscapes’ photography competition run by Dartmoor National Park Authority




By immersing our senses in experiencing  some supernal epoch of befitting light, weather, time and place (in which we maybe evoke half-remembered memories of influences) an alchemy begins – all we have learnt so far leads us to consider, hopefully, some way of trying to express our response to what we see before our eyes in a metaphysical way. Confident technique is a necessity, but our prior knowledge and evolving aesthetic values hopefully inform a creative spark, a soulful way to put our own response into something meaningful as a photograph which in time may resonate with ourselves and others.




“Art should exhilarate, and throw down the walls of circumstance on every side, awakening in the beholder the same sense of universal relation and power which the work evinced in the artist, and its highest effect is to make new artists.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson




This mind-set may explain why the ‘inner landscapes’ and abstract ‘intentional camera movement’ (long exposure panning) approaches may hold so much intrigue for many of us – for they show a self-contained part of the ‘bigger picture’. Their structure as an image and the decisions we have made, in what we have chosen to show within the frame, will hopefully be strong enough to exist as an interesting part of the wider world – with enough gravitas to exist in its own right. Yet we may well leave a sense of mystery and somewhat unanswered questions, which in turn can hold interest beyond a cursory glance and a comment such as “oh, that’s pretty”, before we move on to the bit of our daily dose of imagery and reading to which we are now so exposed to .  This approach that I use in my ‘inner landscapes and abstracts, is something I try to add to my wider landscapes too, to attempt to make a photo that even if someone has an inkling of the location, that they may feel that I have opened some new doorway upon it. I want to make photographs about and with something, rather just of something.



* For information on who has influenced me artistically and why, please have a look at my ‘Artist’s Statement’





Add a Comment


Email (not displayed):