I have often come across other landscape photographers criticising the ‘cliché snapshot’. Oversaturated, lacking in originality and void of subtleties. Now I understand and partly agree with many of the points put forward in their arguments and I personally put quite a bit of effort into trying to avoiding the obvious, (but I’m sure for some, I do massage the wider target audience’s sensibilities from time to time).
Now what I find interesting is why some are so upset about this perfectly innocent, totally harmless pursuit of the wow. Surely if it makes somebody happy, the photographer and the audience then its cool, (whatever their taste). But it clearly isn’t and I can only assume that this attitude arises in people in defence of generalised perception of ‘landscape photographers’. Maybe they feel that the wider audiences misunderstand the more peripheral practitioners and there is a kind of popular vortex, attempting to suck them towards the centre. Anyway, the direction I wanted this ramble to explore, was is in partly related to this pull to the centre, even though it’s a tenuous thread.
I’ve often thought that when on location I shouldn’t try to think too much and just react to the conditions. Anyway, the other morning on a sunrise I began to let my analytical mind interfere with the way I made images. It was as though the conscious thinking about trying to produce something new, something that was different to the cliché, distorted my flow and gave me a creative block! Ironic I know, but it confirmed a view that I’ve been toying with for some time now. Get as much analysis and reflection done away from the field and when in the field, just rely on your subconscious gut feelings to make use of your past experiences and guide you. If you have done the right amount of reflection, analysis and thinking before (and after) you head into the field, what you like and make your subject will be shaped by this work in a subconscious way. Your style will hopefully shine through!
Now I’m not saying this is the correct way to approach making images, and I know that many of you out there have systems that work for you. But for me the next time I go out on a shoot, I intend to leave my frontal hemisphere at home and we shall see what my subconscious comes up with!