Time and Photography -Foundations

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Introduction

Time is an essential parameter in photography. It can be looked at from a technical or physical, an aesthetic or even a philosophical point of view. Photography (and painting) is also different from other  arts in that once it is produced, it doesn’t have an intrinsic duration. In contrast, a movie, a piece of music, a ballet or a play all unfold in time and do have a duration. But in the process of making a photograph, the photographer has to make decisions regarding time and these decisions reflect upon his or her intentions. This series of posts will first look at these different aspects of time in photography. In addition it will visit the topic of time as a subject of photography, which means: “Can we photograph time?”.

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Context – About this Blog

In a recent article called A Disturbing Trend in Photography the photographer and educator Neal Rantoul identifies a trend in photography, where the picture seems overwhelmed by the textual narrative surrounding it. In Rantoul words:

For most works [in recent portfolio reviews], separate the photographs from the words and you have no ability to comprehend what is going on.

He comes to the conclusion that:

This resides perilously close to using the photographs as illustrations, really another field entirely.

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Landscape and Beauty

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Why Landscape Art?

Humans have for at least three thousand years depicted landscapes. First in drawings and paintings and, since the 19th century, also in photographs. What do we find attractive in landscapes that compels us to continue this practice?
What we see is that, with the digital revolution in photography, the depiction of landscapes has not only continued, but exploded. Any image search for famous landmarks on the internet turns up thousands of pictures taken by amateurs and professional photographers alike.

In the light of environmental concern and the need to rethink our relation to nature, one can ask whether this visual overload is helpful or not. Does it show our continued connection to the beauty of this planet, or are we promoting a mindset that turns nature into a form of amusement park? In this context, also landscape artists in general and landscape photographers in particular have to define their role. Is landscape photography only a form of home decoration, or can it still be “art”, enriching people’s lives through meaning – and what kind of meaning could that be?

This article is an inquiry into an answer. It’s starting point is the question, why we might find landscapes beautiful and attractive in the first place.

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