The more I get into photography the more I learn and the more I realise that I have a lot to learn. For example, I now realise that the majority of photographs that will endure the effects of time, are those which in someway, capture a life or time lost, that document society, that makes us ask questions, even somethig as basic as why? These types of images have long legs, and those that depict society, seem to call out to us more.
Here I am trying to create a timeless image. It's not pretty, it's not colourful, you won't want to save it for your screensaver. It's simply a statement. If you saw this photo in 20 years time I'd hope that you'd have a problem deciding whether it's it from 1950, 1970 or 2017? It actually doesn't matter of course, it's simply documenting something that happens everyday here on the coast. A preditory seagull eyeing up a tasty meal, just waiting for the guy to drop his guard. For me the most important thing is that I managed to capture an image that says something about life today, albeit it's a pretty timeless image. It's not particulalry unique although the action of the old man is, for example, he is unlikely to eat that hamburger in exactly the same way in the future and that seagull will have long moved on to other victims. What it is is a pictorial representation of life, simple and stark.
Does this mean that landscapes have no purpose as time progresses. The members of Group f/64, which included a number of celebrated photographers, will beg to differ on my perspective. These photographers, which included
- Ansel Adams
- Imogen Cunningham
- John Paul Edwards
- Sonya Noskowiak
- Henry Swift
- Willard Van Dyke
- Edward Weston
Imogen Cunningham for example, was a notable botanical photographer but look through the body of her work and I guarantee that the photos that will stop you dead, will be her portraits. They are incredibly powerful, moving and evocative. Examples can be found by visiting this link.
I can hear you saying that hey, wait up, every landscape is different. Yes, it is, you're right, and in a hundred years time photos of all the beautiful places that surround us will be just as facinating as they are today. But my argument is that when you look at archives from 50,100, 150 years ago, are they littered with landscapes or of people. In my opinion, and this is a personal perpsective, enduring images capture life, people, a time lost. They encompass a social commentary far beyond the most beautiful landscapes, sunsets and sunrises. The best photography asks questions and indeed, illicit different answers from different viewers. That's not to say that some landscapes won't endure, undoubtadly some will and quite rightly. My guess is though that these, for the most part, will include us, because people are interesting.