I Find Landscapes Overwhelmingly Boring

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My photographs, almost always Include people. Pictures of most ‘things,’ even lovely landscapes or seascapes, I find overwhelmingly boring. Rarely are these pictures of anything that I haven’t seen before. People pictures, on the other hand, are never the same.

via The Works of David Lykes Keenan | SIP.

There Are 27 Comments On This Article.

  1. And I find living in the city where people and movement are thick on the ground that a beautiful, stirring or unexpected landscape takes me in and I want to sit under that tree, looking out over that valley or shore line and take it all in. When done well, with or without a person or an animal or a lone conveyance of some short for a moment I’m looking through Steve McCurry’s eyes or shifting the camera for my own point of view. I feel the same way about something human made that makes me see it isolated, individual from a different perspective. Barbara

  2. If your landscapes are overwhelmingly boring, you just don’t know how to capture them. And they are just like people, the world is forever changing, evolving.

  3. I understand that it is just the photographer’s personal opinion, but the statement:

    “…lovely landscapes or seascapes, I find overwhelmingly boring. Rarely are these pictures of anything that I haven’t seen before…”

    seems pretty silly to me. The world around us is infinitely varied, more varied than just the human race, which is merely one small part of that world. If he rarely sees pictures of anything he hasn’t seen before, either he has an extraordinarily broad experience of the world, or more likely, he just isn’t very interested in, and probably has little experience of, the landscape around us.

    It reminds me of a photo researcher I met at a party at Magnum Photos in London back in the 90’s. She said “The problem with wildlife photography is there just isn’t anything new these days. Everything has already been photographed”. I thought at the time it was a bizarre and clearly flawed statement, and looking back over the extraordinary new and original wildlife images taken in the past 2 decades, I would say that wildlife photography is only coming into full maturity in the present!

  4. It seems more a matter of style and taste. While I personally don’t find nature photography particularly interesting or intriguing, it is dangerous to make generalizations, or impose your opinion on others

    That holds for many things in life – just watch the election news: a battle between those who favor individualism and the right of everyone to have their own views and live life according to his own values; vs. the herd that tries to impose the group mentality on everyone and require conformity on all types of political, sociological, and religious topics. It’s deeply dividing.

    But back to topic of photography – personally I’m drawn to people photography and commercial photography because the creative process is very different. One can more or less come up with any creative concept and then find the ingredients to create – mix people, location, lighting, props, wardrobe, make-up, hair, and the possibilities are infinite, only limited by your imagination. It’s a very active and involved creative process, and it involves many people, and the results can be indeed be unique, never seen before.

    On nature photography, including landscape, while point of view, time of day, quality of light, can vary from shot to shot, the process is much more observant and passive. It’s about waiting for the right moment – one cannot move the sun, change the weather except for waiting for another day to shoot.

    It’s that difference in creative approach that tends to separate the people/commercial photographer from the landscape photographer. One is extroverted, enjoys team work – while the other tends to be introverted and solitaire. That is not pass judgement on either one, both are totally valid choices and creative achievements, it’s simply an observation on the subject. And I’m sure there are extroverted landscape photographers, and introverted commercial photographers as well.

    • Agreed. I enjoy both types, to escape one for the other so the brain retains some equilibrium.

  5. The author’s passion is obviously people pictures. If you’re not passionate about a subject, there’s a chance you’ll never see the beauty and/ or what draws other people to it. I doubt his opinion towards landscapes has anything to do with his personal outdoor experiences or lack there of should it be the case. I’m also sure he can appreciate a good landscape picture when he sees one, but it just doesn’t inspire him.

  6. the cinemascapist

    exactly… he uses words like “most” and “rarely” in regards to the other “things” including sea and land scapes, he didn’t say “all” and “never”. Just like I very very rarely am inspired by anything deadpan.

  7. I find photographers offering their subjective opinions about what is and what is not photography overwhelmingly boring. It generally happens when they have nothing interesting to say. Focusing on why portraiture is his true love without disrespecting someone else’s passion would be a more elegant way of presenting himself.

  8. This comes across as a very limited view of what the term ‘landscape’ can encompass. The post is definitely a party starter though. I am constantly re-evaluating what the term landscape can mean in my photographic practice.

  9. It depends on what your interests are. I would assume that the author is a “city person” and doesn’t have a lot of interest in doing solitary hikes in redwood forests or shooting trees in pouring rain.

    I do agree that there is too much copy-cat work in the genre though especially if you spend any time on the social networking sites.

    • c.d.embrey

      I’ve lived in L.A., I’ve lived in the High Desert and now I live at the Beach. When the children were young we would do a monthly camping trip. And I dislike Landscape photography even more than I dislike Street photography. How do you explain that ? 8-)

  10. While he says that:

    “People pictures, on the other hand, are never the same.”

    I think the argument can work either way:

    “most [people pictures are] overwhelmingly boring”

    as stated above, go look at the social networking sites.

  11. Life would really suck as a photographer if everyone out there liked to shoot everything under the sun. I think uncannily there is a balance of photographers for the styles they focus on. Somehow the equilibrium is maintained allowing for work being available to all if they are willing.

  12. i’m glad you said that, i feel guilty often overlooking seascapes and landscapes. As a photographer allot of people expect me to like them, which means most people do. I just rarely want to look at them. I would love to be “there” I just dont want to see a picture of it. I dont understand why.

  13. As an photography/art educator, I was intrigued by this statement, and went to Lykes’ website to see all these “people pictures” of his. The opening shot on the home page is of the inside of a lampshade! Go figure!

    Maybe this statement is being taken out of context, and the photographer is actually saying something else.

  14. It’s funny because I find your work PARTICULARLY boring. The world and the people in it are both beautiful. A statement like this from a photographer seems pretty close minded and sounds visually ignorant. I think Gursky just sold a landscape for 3 or 4 million – I’m not saying it’s a great photo by any means but much stronger than work on your website. Spend some more time shooting. You’ll get it one day.

  15. Donnor Party

    I’m with Keenan on this one. Rarely do landscapes interest me. I know people like landscapes, and that is fine. I also like garlic and Campari. Some people don’t.

  16. The human comedy is infinite in variety and we as viewers/voyeurs have an insatiable appetite for its delicacies.

    I suspect that if D.L. Keenan had grown up in a non-urban or non-urbane environment he would still be making wonderful photos but of subjects he says he finds boring.

    • Donnor Party

      Met too! Some people hate it. To each his own. Maybe ther eis a correlation between people shooters and strong flavors. How many landscapers like grappa?