Do you hang what you shoot?

Alpine sunset as seen from the Rigi.

This blog post is related to the one about "boring landscapes" that I have recently written and a somewhat similar idea was also elaborated in a podcast by Brooks Jensen. Although I like and appreciate beautiful landscapes and the outdoors, these subjects are not the ones that I seek the most as a photographer. I find it more challenging and satisfactory to search for hidden details that are only discovered by the careful observer than documenting a beautiful landscape. Interestingly though, if I had to choose a preferred photograph, or select one to be printed in a large size and hung in our apartment, I would choose a landscape composition! Strange, isn't it? Maybe a contradiction even.

Thinking about this topic made me realise that the two types of subjects refer to two completely different disciplines. For me, landscape photography is mainly about the location and moment in time where and when it is conducted. It is about an experience in the outdoors and photography is (only) a documentation of such adventures. It aims to capture the grandeur of a scene as closely (often better) as one remembers it, but the photography does not alter the experience (it may even prevent us from fully appreciating a scene). What does alter the experience is the adventure: the hiking, camping or whatever activity that was necessary to get to the spot where a particular photograph was composed. In my opinion, landscape photographs are about adventures, small or large, and such compositions exclaim "I have been there in this extraordinary moment and it looked like this!"

In contrast, the photography of hidden details is like a riddle that needs a creative solution. It is about finding a composition, at any time and in any place, that will captivate the viewer. Hidden detail photography is a quest for interesting compositions, also in places where I would never seek an adventure. It requires and practices a positive and inquisitive attitude and thus transforms my experience of the environment: it changes how and what I see, my appreciation for a particular place, and even my attitude at my life in general. Being and becoming more conscious of small details that I like makes me more appreciative overall. Most hidden detail photographs ask "Did you notice that?" and encourage me, and hopefully some of you, to experience our everyday environment more consciously.

But let's come back to the question stated in the title of this text. Apparently, often I am not shooting what I would rather hang on my walls. I long for adventures in the outdoors, for majestic views over natural wonders. Photographs that address this longing are the ones that I prefer to be hung as posters on my walls. On the other hand, as a creative activity and a complement to work and family, the photography of hidden details is incredibly satisfying and fulfilling and enriches my life.

I think this is enough about this topic for the moment. Let me know if you have other thoughts, opinions or additions. This post started with a photograph that I may enlarge and hang on a wall, and it ends with a composition that I am proud of having found.

Zig-zag reflection, Forum Chriesbach (EAWAG), Zurich.

2015/12/26 by Florian Freimoser
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