While I really enjoy shooting weddings - love it, in fact (despite the stress and worry over the weather etc) - I also resisted it for the longest time because, at my core, I'm a bit of a loaner. I much prefer getting away from people, rather than seeking large groups of them out. Growing up I would have said that I was shy, although that shyness has certainly decreased the older I get. But I still don't like large groups of people. They make me nervous.
So, not surprisingly, when I wanted to start taking photography seriously, I gravitated towards the more lone pursuit of the landscape. All of my exhibitions have been on the landscape, and most of the framed prints in the house are (with the exception of family photos of course) landscapes. All of which is a long-winded way of saying "I'm a landscape kinda guy".
|Driftwood. Canon 20D + EF-S 18-55mm IS @ f8|
While walking along the beach we came across some pretty cool driftwood. Whenever I spot a photo opportunity - even when I'm with the family - I get into the 'zone' and start approaching the scene as I would if I was out taking landscapes on my own. So I tell the kids "stay out of the frame - don't get in the shot" - basically "leave me alone, I'm taking a photo". Yeah, not very nice, I know. Although in my defense, I never take very long at these moments, and the kids do have the whole rest of the beach to play on... just not in 'my' spot for a few minutes. Usually I'll end up taking a few of the kids playing in the same spot once I've finished as well - and that's what I did this weekend. I took my 'arty' landscape shots, and then some more family friendly 'snapshots' afterwards.
|Driftwood and family. Canon 20D + EF-S 18-55mm IS|
Maybe it was the time of day, or maybe it was my mindset when I took them, but the more I looked at the images, the more I felt myself drawn to the ones that had people in them, and the less interested I was in the 'arty' lone-landscape images. Upon reflection, the more I think about it, the more I realise this to be the case in the images that I find the most compelling - there's some human element there that makes the landscape more personal, more interesting and more intimate.
Does that mean that I will never go out on my own again and make 'pure' landscape images? No - absolutely not. Maybe that's the challenge of taking landscapes that hold no human content?
Or maybe it means that we come to an image wanting to relate to it in some way - even if it's a small way - in human terms. A road, a hut, a footprint, a bridge - anything that connects our humaneness to the landscape?
What I do know, when looking back through my image library, is that I respond more to an image when it has a human element to it - and that's good enough for me.