Landscape Photography

It may seem quite obvious at first what landscape photography is, however as with all classifications and genres in photography, it varies depending on who you ask and who is taking the photographs. Landscape photography is often thought of as beautiful sunsets, wide open vistas, huge tonal ranges and saturated colours, however landscape can encompass a huge range of aesthetic qualities and overlaps into documentary and other areas of photography.

Ansel Adams The Tetons and the Snake River (1942) Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Ansel Adams was the foremost landscape photographer, a pioneer of photography techniques and a photographic educator. His work is seen as many as the bar to achieve in Landscape photography and many emulate and are inspired by his work. His work fits into what could be classed as Pictorialist, a photography movement from the late 18th early 19th centuries, which wanted to show that photography could be art, instead of just documenting or recording and focussed on beauty, tone, composition and even manipulation rather than recreating reality.

Even in the digital age much of landscape photography follows the idea of Pictorialism, creating photographic art, whether through camera techniques, manipulation and compositing or changing colours, tones and removing distracting elements.

Simon Roberts Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies Of A Small Island

Simon Roberts work, while arguably still landscapes, has completely different intentions and unlike the pictorialist work of Ansel Adams, largely sets out to document landscapes and how they are used by people.

Do you think these are landscape images? If not how would you categorise them?

Andreas Gurksy (2016) Les Mées, a solar farm in France

Andreas Gursky creates huge landscape images that illustrate humanities impact on the earth. He edits the images to remove any distracting elements and to simplify them. Although perhaps not beautiful to everyone, his work certainly fits into the Pictorialist idea of creating art from photography. Gursky’s images are usually printed huge for gallery display, replicating other art forms such as painting, again playing into the Pictorialist ideas. His work sells for millions of dollars.

Andreas Gurksy (1999) Rhine II Sold for $4.3 million in 2011

Do you think the above images are landscape? despite the modern connotations, they are intended to be landscapes, to be beautiful and colourful and not necessary a reflection of reality. How would you categorise them, street, documentary?