Really, Where do we go from here?

Someone recently told me I need to think about how to make my landscape photographs fresh so they are kept from being seen merely as anachronisms. In a way, I am not even sure I know what to do with that kind of criticism. Is the simple answer to photograph in color? And then what?

I can’t help wonder what exactly is “contemporary” or “forward thinking” landscape photography, and who are the photographers pushing the envelope in that area? I am not even sure it can be pushed at all. How do you reach past the later Edward Weston photographs at Point Lobos or the Lee Friedlander photographs in the Sonora Desert? How can you push past the complexity of Jem Southam’s Painter’s Pool photographs.

This is a reoccurring subject for me, and I always come back to the same conclusion. They only way I can make these pictures fresh is by approaching the subject honestly, and without pretense. If I go out with the intent of creating something new, I will only succeed in creating something false. It is only in being completely absorbed in seeing in the moment that something altogether true can be created. I cannot perceive how anything I do will be seen in ten or twenty years, and at this point, I have to pretend not to care. With the constant pressure of “having to create something new” I might never make another picture ever again.


About Richard Boutwell

I am an emerging photographer originally from the Hi-Desert of Southern California, and relocated to Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 2002 for an intensive apprenticeship with the photographers Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee. I now live in Philadelphia, and concentrate on my own projects and writing.
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