Beauty in Photography – Adams

One quote in this book by Robert Adams really stood out for me.

“Landscape pictures offer 3 verities:

  • Geography
  • Autobiography
  • Metaphor

Geography alone can be boring, autobiography alone can be trivial and metaphor sometimes dubious. But taken together in the best work, the three kinds of information strengthen and reinforce an affection for life”.

I found this fascinating, not just from the three aspects that make up a landscape image but also how each of these can individually be poor. It helps to explain why some landscapes just don’t seem to work, but that when all combine well then the result can be compelling.

I had often thought of landscape in terms of geography and even sometimes in terms of metaphor, but I hadn’t previously given any real consideration to landscape as biography. I need to start to think more about what I am trying to put into it rather than simply make a record of a scene.

There is an excellent review and summary of the book in The New York Times (Grundberg 1981).

ADAMS, R, (1996). Beauty in Photography. New York: Aperture.

GRUNDBERG, A., 1981. The Point of Photographs. New York Times Online. http://www.nytimes.com/1981/11/29/books/the-point-of-photographs.html [Accessed 24/07/2017]