Is there a place you photograph most? Landscape (or cityscape) you can call yours? And does it happen to you that photos from your hometown are better than photos from a trip?
In this video, photographer Erik Wahlstrom discusses some interesting landscape shooting points. I instantly found myself in some of them, and I’d love to see if you will, too.
Failing to capture new landscapes
One of the most common subjects of Eric’s photos is an abandoned industrial building Cargill Pool Grain Elevator. It’s not an exotic place; it’s not even a beautiful tourist attraction in his hometown. Yet, this building has a special place in many of his works. This old, decaying building is his landscape.
Eric talks about the trip to Arizona, where he visited Phoenix, Sedona, and magnificent Grand Canyon. Overwhelmed with beauty, he tried to capture as much as he could and save those moments. But in the end, the photos didn’t reflect his vision of these places. Why is this so?
His explanation is that the experience overshadows the images. And I can totally relate to this feeling, I’ve had it so many times. Whenever I am overwhelmed with the impressions during a trip, I often fail to capture the place the way I want. And I think we don’t fail to capture the beauty we see (I find Eric’s photos from Grand Canyon gorgeous). But the problem is we sometimes can’t capture the beauty as we feel it at a given moment. The impressions may alter our photographic vision.
So, what makes the images of “your landscape” good? According to Eric, “the power of photography is to record the moment and mutate that moment into something entirely new; to freeze an image in time, but also make something unique.”
Best photographers take things they know well, draw out of them the things that make them unique and turn them into photos. The connection you have with some locations in your hometown can produce many interesting pictures, even if you photograph the same subject multiple times.
When we know a particular place so well and know its history, it helps to tell a lot of different stories about it through our photos. For Eric, it’s the Cargill Pool Grain Elevator – the building that, as he sees it, reflects the history and the story of his hometown. This is his landscape:
The moment I read the question “what’s your landscape?” I thought of mine. It’s a view from a fortress over my hometown. When you climb there, you see the panorama of the city, and at the right time of the day, you can watch the sunset.
All the tourists take photos and selfies from there, but I don’t mind – I still see it as my landscape. I grew up in this town; I was here when the bridges were bombed and when the new ones were built. I have a ton of photos from this place, and I always feel the same excitement when I get there with my camera. Although it may not be the most beautiful place in the world, this is my landscape:
What’s your landscape? Is there a place you photograph most often? What does it represent for you? Share your thoughts and photos in comments.
[Finding Your Landscape | Erik Wahlstrom]
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