What Type of Photographer?

The Three Types of Photography That Appeal to Me and Their Intersection

While I was recently poking around on the Royal Society of Photography website I was curious to come across the genres of photography into which you could categorize your body of work for assessment. Of the eight categories only three really appealed to me:

Contemporary: Photography that communicates a visual realisation of a stated argument, idea or concept.

Landscape Photography: Photography that illustrates and interprets earth’s habitats, from the remotest wilderness to urban environs

Visual Art Photography: Photography which communicates a creative vision.

These are quite broad and give you a lot of space to work in. Never quite satisfied. And because all three appeal to me, I wondered about the intersections of these genres and what’s there.

I had fun putting together the graphic above to explore this a little bit. Also fun to learn a bit more about the history of photography in this way.

I think that ‘contemporary’ could be interpreted in two ways – it could mean ‘of our time‘, it could also mean ‘conceptual’. I’m going with ‘of our time’.

My new types of photography then are:

Contemporary Landscape – think Robert Adams or Edward Burtynsky

Fine Art Landscape – think Hiroshi Sugimoto or Michael Kenna

Contemporary Fine Art – I’m thinking of people such as Arno Rafael Minkkinen or those doing composites such as Jerry Uelsmann or John Paul Caponigro or what Jeremy Cowart is doing with photography, light projection and painting.

I still don’t want to be hemmed in by definitions but these seven categories – including contemporary fine art landscape – nicely encapsulate the world that I’m currently playing in.

How about you? Do you put a label on the kind of work that you’re doing? Does it help or hinder?

Friday Inspiration: Edward Burtynsky – Water

edward-burtynsky-water-designboom-09

I find that I frequently return the work of photographers that have previously caught my attention. Edward Burtynsky is one such photographer. I had previously highlighted the retrospective of his work called Manufactured Landscapes and was pleased to see that he has recently completed a new project called Water.

One of the things that I am curious to see when I’m looking at new projects from familiar photographers is to see how their process has evolved, if at all. With Water, Burtynsky is no longer considering gravity as a constraint and uses a variety of tools that allow him to get the shot that he’s imagined, regardless of the vantage point. I’m not sure that I would be up for putting a Hasselblad on a model helicopter, especially after seeing Chase Jarvis’s experience, but sometimes you’ve got to do whatever it takes. Click on the link below to see a behind the scenes video of the making of Water.

Where I Stand – Edward Burtynsky from Flowers Gallery on Vimeo.

Friday Inspiration: Edward Burtynsky

I had a birthday recently and one of the gifts that I received was Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, a retrospective of Burtynsky’s work that features essays by Lori Pauli, Kenneth Baker and Mark Haworth-Booth.  An added bonus, for me at least, is an interview with the Burtynsky by Michael Torosian, originally published in the Lumiere Press title ‘Residual Landscapes‘.  Burtnynsky’s work focuses on the impact of man on the landscape, his large format pictures of the damaged landscape, from mountains of tires to rivers of bright orange waste from a nickel mine, are really quite impressive but really make you stop and wonder what are we doing to the planet?

Burtynsky won the 2005 TED Prize, his TED presentation is in the video below.  To find out more about Burtnysky click here.