Landscape photography is one of those areas plagued by cliche. A large lump of rock in the foreground and a trail leading to apocalyptic clouds; A broad expanse of silky water with a a few sticks protruding, or a lonely tree set against brooding storm clouds. It seems that many landscapes these days would sit comfortably in a scene from Lord of the Rings they are so fantastical.
I’m not saying my feeble attempts are any better and besides I love some of these pictures. There’s something in us all that loves a dramatic sunset or a peaceful expanse of water with a jetty inviting us to stand on the edge of our world.
Rock Detail, West Burton Falls by Chris Ceaser
On Friday I heard professional photographer Chris Ceaser talking about his work. Chris is a hard working practical photographer who produces some of the most natural and well observed landscapes I have seen. The thing you notice about his work is that it is not over produced or stylised to death, there’s something quite natural and honest about them. The drama comes from the place rather than something imposed in post production. It appears to me that the prints in real life seem much more natural that they are on the website.
His technical advice was minimal, a few words about putting the camera on aperture priority. The majority of his talk was about composition and about being in the right place at the right time. I was disheartened to realise that producing work anything like as good would require a huge commitment – days of fruitless trips, hours of waiting for the right light.
The thing that struck me most was the interest he took in the places he was shooting – the stories about the landscapes; He talked about derelict miners cottages and close knit fishing communities. He explained that the Angel of the North protected the people of the North and therefore he framed his image with space behind to reinforce this feeling.
The inspiration I take from his talk is not really about photography at all but about having a passion for the places. As he said, photography makes you see a place differently and there’s something about the excitement of seeing new things in familiar places. Photography is not just about making pictures but is a tool for training our eyes, for keeping us still for a moment and for sharing stories.