My big problem with landscape and urban photography

I have a big problem with landscape and urban photography. I chose 5 examples for you, randomly in Google Images. I call this problem the “Intention of Effect“.

Long pauses transform cars into lines. Choosing sunset time gives “interesting” colours to the mountains. Using a drone makes you fly and shows lines. Putting the camera on the ground brings “interesting” lines and reflections.

Well, in each of these pictures I FEEL the photographer’s will, which seems to YELL at me “I AM SMART HAVE YOU SEEN IT?”. Yeah, I’ve seen it, buddy.

Each time I see one picture like this (and they are a majority), I’m rolling eyes. I’m like : “Okey little man, I see what you do”; and this is ABSOLUTELY boring.

Intention of effect kills effect.

This is not art, no art at all. It’s all waxywet, schmaltzy and wishy-washy, it is not gorgeous: it’s ridiculous and I’m already out, goodbye.

The contrary of all this monkey arounding appeared in the 70s with Stephen Shore and William Eggleston.

They knew the “pretty” urban or landscape pictures were ridiculous, and very, very far behind the Art Movement.

They had to find another way to show cities and nature. To stop being a show-off little idiot.

So they experimented a more neutral “way”, becoming an amateur-beginner, or becoming a tech-photographer. I think they wanted to show us the mood of a place, or maybe to be precise, or maybe they simply wanted to stop appearing like a smart-ass “look how I’m good” photographer. How to achieve that?

Of course they began to take pictures of the ordinary, empty urban spaces, parking lots, roads and houses. This was much more interesting and “charged” with the sense of a place.

I chose some Stephen Shore‘s pictures. This man makes my eyes stop. I want to wander on the photography. I (ain’t it strange)… breathe. I almost understand WHY the guy stopped there. This shadow. These lines. An horizon. The light of the day!

You’ll find many texts, articles and interviews about him and his influence on the web. Have fun!

Photography : Nobody/Somebody in a place?

Unless you take portraits, or fashion, or any photos where you want to show somebody (or some body), one can ask and wonder :

If you want to take a picture of a PLACE, you have to make your many usual choices, composition and all, but there’s a question, always :

DO YOU PUT SOMEONE IN IT OR NOT?

Here are a few pictures to play with.

Alex Webb often saturates his pictures with life. You feel like you’re in a middle of people’s energy.

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Gruyaert often dances between : a place and one or a few persons.

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Paul Graham inverts this balance here : you see people in the restaurant, but the picture is almost empty.

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Stephen Shore sometimes takes pictures without people.

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This, you see me coming, leads to a set of questions.

What’s your choice, as a photographer? Do you need someone on the picture so “show” a place? Are the humanist in you in need of this “portrait in a place” thing? What happens in the audience’s eye when you have nobody to look at? What does it bring? A freedom? Time? A deeper plunge? Is there a balance to find? Don’t you think it’s easier to “imagine yourself” into the picture, when it’s empty? What do you like, and what would YOU do?

Eggleston :

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Franck Gohlke, American Photographer

http://www.frankgohlke.com

They call him an “American landscape photographer”.

I saw his name and explored his work a little. I got this sickness which is “my brain begins to move, to be touched, but I don’t know or understand by what”.

Therefore I go on lurking…

What does he show? “Man altered landscapes”. I let you decide what is the mood you find here.

Probably beyond words, right?

Have a nice day!

new-housing-development-benbrook-texas-foto-di-frank-gohlke-1963-1No.8grainelevator_missoulagrainelevator_minneapolisNo.12No.14Frank Gohlke; Breezedale, Rocky River, Ohio, 1997.No.19