Exercise 4.3: A subjective voice

I grew up in a small town in the East Midlands close to the countryside and as a child I used to cycle around the local area. So far as I can remember, all the images of the countryside at that time were of country cottages and views of the countryside. These images were widespread in papers and magazines, on tins of biscuits and boxes of chocolates. I was keen on photography at the time and these stereotypical images heavily influenced my views on landscape and what constituted a good image.

Later in life I spent some years working in remoter areas of Indonesia. Living conditions for the local population were harsh with no running water or sanitation yet most of my photographs from the time are of striking landscapes or spectacular sunsets. Most of them were very ‘touristy’ views; I guess that this is understandable in that the photos were taken as momentos of my time there and to show to others ‘what it was like’.

I think that this has resulted in my having (until starting this course) a quite entrenched traditional view of what constitutes a good landscape image. Reading of Fay Godwin’s work, which addressed barriers to access in the countryside, showing the barbed wire around Stonehenge – at that time I would probably have tried to take a photo which didn’t show the barbed wire but simply concentrated on Stonehenge itself, concentrating on what I thought it should look like rather than the reality of the restricted access.

Finally my later subscriptions to photography magazines will also have had an influence on my views of landscape. Reading Photography Monthly and Practical Photography led me to think that the lessons in those journals on ‘take better landscape photos’ were the route to success.