Goodbye DSLR, Hello…
For roughly the past 2-3 years, I’ve been on a journey of sorts. I’ve been searching for something I knew was out there but I didn’t know where I’d find it. I traveled throughout the Western USA, explored much of Utah, hiked hundreds of miles trails in Park City and confined myself to within 100 steps from my home, all with my camera in my hand. I used Nikon and Canon DSLR’s, a variety of lenses and filters and shot tens of thousands of photos. Maybe more. I watched countless YouTube videos and made many trips to the library to learn as much as I can about photography. I shot more photos. My life has literally been consumed by photography and I wouldn’t want it any other way. For me, this is what it took to find the one thing I was looking for, my artistic vision.
I’ve even contemplated if what I was trying to convey is best expressed via a camera, or if it was through another medium. I know I don’t want the tool to define and limit my vision, but rather, want the tool to be the best way to express this vision. I concluded, and believe as strongly as ever, that the camera is the best way for me to do this. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to photograph a huge variety of subjects and experiment with different styles throughout this process. The landscape of Utah is breathtaking and I’m reminded of this every single day, whether in Park City or in the red-rock deserts further south. The seasons change in dramatic fashion, with fall colors, deep snows, wildflowers and monsoon rains all providing a never-ending visual stimulation. There is a rich history in Utah, although relatively short, that is fascinating to the eye as well. Wildlife is abundant and always makes the outdoor experience richer when encountered (safely!).
All these “subjects” make for amazing photographs but there is something missing from all of this for me. Photography as an art is more to me than recreating what someone’s eyes saw, or what the photographer felt at the time. To me, its a combination of the two with the addition of allowing the viewer room to build their own emotional connection. For example, imagine a sunrise or sunset image you’ve recently seen and remember, then think of what the photographer felt at the time. How can the photographer uniquely show this in their image, or be different from another photographer standing next to them at that same place and moment? What about a third photographer? And so on. This is the question that I’ve struggled to find an answer for as an artist with a camera.
I rarely photograph landscapes with sunrises and sunsets anymore. I’m more interested in the light on the scene below the horizon or the shapes and colors of clouds above it. I think of a popular location as an example, and imagine what it looks like on the days when nobody is around to photograph it. Are there conditions of light that haven’t been photographed before? Are there days when the landscape needs a different light but you’re only there for a day or so? Other than endlessly waiting for the light to be (your definition of perfect), I believe creating images from the scenes where the light is (my definition of perfect) communicates vision more effectively. This could be a single leaf. A rock. A cloud. The entire Grand Canyon. This is the same reason I don’t prefer to plan images in advance. Instead, I enjoy observing the landscape and light, watching the transitions, seeking the details, slowing down to notice the subtleties and using those as the templates for an image. Being outside often and allowing time for all of this has sharpened my eye for what I believe make more expressive images. I don’t see the same when rushed and many of my favorite images have come from allowing such time.
Getting back to the title of this post, I’ve found a solution that appeals to me and encompasses everything I love about photography as an art. It seems like every landscape photographer has made a change to the latest and greatest camera available and at this time, it’s Sony. A few years ago it was Nikon. Before that it was Canon. So what is my solution? I’m leaving that for the next post where I’ll discuss my choice in further detail.
Thank you for reading and following along on this journey, it’s far from over:)