No Bold Photos this evening
One evening at Lake Bled, I was running a one to one workshop and we were setup photographing the sunset. It was not a particularly stunning sunset in any sense of the word, but there was a hint of colour in the sky nonetheless. There would be no bold colours in our photos this evening. There was no flaming sky, but rather some soft, subtle pastel colour amid some brooding clouds. As we were capturing it a woman passed by, camera tucked under her arm, and commented:
“You’ll have to do a lot of work in Lightroom to bring out the colour. Tomorrow is supposed to be better.”
It was clear that she had abandoned any idea of taking a photo that evening.
Have we become to obsessed with colour?
This got me thinking. In the world of Internet and Social Media have we become too obsessed with bold, striking photos? I often see images packed with colour that get thousands of likes and comments of “wow!” But when I look closely at the image it is actually quite bad, and were it to be printed large would likely look awful. The problem is of course that bold, striking images look great on screen and immediately jump out at us, whereas the beauty of an image with more subtle, soft light and colour doesn’t. This means that it is more likely to be dismissed when scrolling past on the screen.
It seems we have lost sight of the subtle nuances of photography. As a landscape photographer I often take inspiration from other great artists such as Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite and David Noton. In most cases their images are not striking because of their bold colours, but because of the light, composition and colour within. My most favourite images of theirs are usually ones with soft, pastel colours and muted tones.
Landscape painters and photographers
While I confess I am not an art expert, I do love looking at good landscape paintings. In many ways a landscape photographer is akin to a landscape painter, we just use a different medium. And I often find myself asking, “Would a landscape painter be so obsessed with bold colour?” The answer is likely, “no”
My father was an excellent painter. He only painted for his own pleasure, but I grew up watching him paint and our house was adorned with his paintings. My memory is not of bold, striking colourful images, but those of subtle colours that were easy on the eye.
Many of the photos I’ve admired from other landscape photographers were not because they jumped out at me with their striking colours, but more often than not because of the subtle beauty within. The Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year competition is regularly criticised for its winning image, yet I often find myself agreeing with the judges and the more I look at the winning photographs, the more I see the beauty in them.
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