- Simon Turnbull
The Summer Malaise of Landscape Photography
No snow. No frost. No mist. No hope. Setting an alarm for 3am…no thank you very much. I’ll just chuck (well, carefully place) my camera in a corner and leave it to gather dust until the trees start burning red when I’ll emerge like a phoenix, create landscape photography genius and win fame and fortune globally, if not universally.
Well that’s an option I guess. But then I ask myself: Why do I take photos? If it’s to “wow” others then clearly this isn’t a clever road to go down. First up, I don’t live in an epic location. I found myself longingly looking at the winners of International Landscape Photographer of the Year and thinking, why don't I have shots like that? Then it occurred to me - the crystal blue water flooded sand dunes aren’t readily apparent in Hertfordshire. It hardly ever snows these days thanks to the human race slow roasting the planet. Fog can only be predicted by Himalayan wizards. So those epic Instagram shots we’re exposed to are really very rare and hard to obtain and I certainly shouldn’t pin my hopes on them.
So what to do?! Give up? That has occurred to me. I could spend my limited free time playing golf badly instead because that would be really fulfilling (not). I know giving up is not the answer, so what is? I don’t like the word “hobby” in the context of my photography because it makes it sound a little unimportant. Like it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t happen. But it does matter to me and I’d like it to have some meaning.
So the answer, for me at least, lies in moving away from the epic and finding subjects that have some connection for me. I'd say they're mostly glimpses of nature around us. I’m perhaps at my most content sitting in a field watching the butterflies roost for the evening. Or watching a leaf teetering on the edge of a little waterfall. So that’s what I’ve been taking pictures of. They’re not epic in the big vista / Instagram viral sense but they have some emotional connection for me and are part of my photographic journey. I’ve always loved the more abstract and minimal images so why not shoot with those in mind.
These Common Tern images have got me out and provided a real release for me. The picture is very much secondary to the experience. They’re not dependent on conditions (although as a tip, these ones work best when overcast) or location but I’m happy with the result which is all that matters. And the beauty of shooting a project, rather than one-off “wow” shots, is that it gets me out time and again. Before you know it the Summer has gone and you’ve got a nice little series of shots to show for it.
So I’m not going to write (using inappropriate capitals) “TOP 5 ways to BEAT summer BLUES”. That’s not what my blog ramblings are about. But I would suggest that to find your own path, work out why you take photos in the first place. For me at least it's the mindfulness landscape photography brings. Shooting projects has helped dampen the blues. Shooting black and white has given my shots a nice creative angle too so I can recommend that. Summer is actually a wonderful opportunity to reflect on where you’re going and to try something new which may well take you down new paths that aren’t reliant on epic conditions and fancy locations.
I hope you've enjoyed the read and seeing my latest pictures. Please do leave a message, I'd really like to hear your thoughts.
All the very best,