Exercise 3.2 Postcard views
- Gather a selection of postcards (6-12) that you’ve either bought yourself or received from other people. If you don’t have any, then try to borrow some from other people, or see what you can find on an internet search. Write a brief evaluation (around 300 words) of the merits of the images you find. Importantly, consider whether, as Fay Godwin remarked, these images bear any relation to your own experience of the places depicted in the postcards.
- Write a brief response (around 200 words) to Graham Clarke’s comments above. Do you think it’s possible not to be a ‘tourist’ or ‘outsider’ as the maker of landscape images?
I managed to find ten postcards that had been sent to us over some time, I have been to all of the destinations except Sorento and Pompei. Of the places, I have been the images, on the whole, seem to me to represent the location all be it in the most appealing way. It is almost impossible to see the Trevi Fountain with no people swarming around it. When I went to photograph it myself, it was necessary to push to the edge of the water to take an image not blocked by the tourists. Likewise, the images of the Colosseum are free from tourists. The night shot of the Colosseum is also very over saturated and coloured and bears no real relationship with the real experience. I find the two images of Venice to remind me very strongly of the place the one of Grand Canal again does not reflect the colour as I remember it and looks a little bit like a painting. I do feel that postcards are taken to look appealing and to show the most romantic view of a place to convey the message don’t you wish you came here. I suppose they are designed by the tourism industry to encourage more people to come and spend their money. The image of Guildford though an old photo surprisingly still feels like the place though many of the shops have changed the felling is still the same. This may be amplified by the cobblestone high street still being in place making Guildford feel like an older town as in the picture. The Isle of Wight postcard is typical to me of those trashy seaside town memories, it does very little to depict the place but is exactly what you expect to find in a seaside shop.
In response to Graham Clarke
I do identify with Graham Clarke’s words, many of the postcards displayed here are taken from a privileged angle, at a time when there are no people, this fact alone makes the image seem privileged. However, A tourist would rarely be given this kind of privilege so rather than truly being the perspective of a tourist it would seem to reflect a level of privilege that could only be gained by someone with authority. The last part of the question gives me pause, “Do you think it is possible to not be a tourist or outsider as the maker of Landscape images?”. It strikes me that the act of going somewhere to find a view and document it with a camera, is the essence of tourism so I struggle to find a situation where I would say yes to this, other than when taking the image as part of the machine of tourism while holding a special privilege in terms of access. By nature, the latter is a form of tourism as it is done to stoke the machine of tourism. I do, however, leave my self ready to be contradicted if someone has an explanation that overrides my thoughts. I do wonder if the answer matters in the grand scheme of things other than as an academic debate for budding degree students.
Exercise 3.1: Reflecting on the picturesque
Write a short reflective account of your own views on the picturesque (around 300 words). Consider how the concept of the picturesque has influenced your own ideas about landscape art, and in particular your ideas about what constitutes an effective or successful landscape photograph.
When thinking about the picturesque, I usually think about the works of artists such as Constable and Turner. My interpretation is that of a scene that is peaceful and pretty, such as the rolling countryside or depictions of nature. I understand that the Picturesque is not limited to this, however, this is my mental image, of a picturesque scene.
While I enjoy such images, they are not my subject of choice, when creating my own art. I like many am guilty of letting the word picturesque influence my view on what constitutes a landscape image. This view is reinforced by the landscape view encapsulated by the Royal Photographic Society, the PAGB and other institutions that adjudicate photographic competitions that almost have a formula for a landscape.
I tend to think of a landscape as something broken into layers, with a strong foreground, and an epic middle, or far ground, epitomised by the work of photographers, like Ansel Adams. I feel that for a landscape to be successful it needs a subject, be it a landmark like a waterfall, river or mountain, or some other structure, like a bridge or building. I am not keen on landscape images that are just bands of light and colour, though I do appreciate the work. If I am honest, I enjoy a landscape with more detail, like a broken-down castle, old wall or a bridge. I probably like the cliché of a landscape; However, I do really enjoy images that divert wildly from these norms, and probably away from the picturesque. My personal preference, would be to create a landscape image with more of a fantasy feel, maybe even a dark overtone, rather than the pretty chocolate box covers that do so well in Camera Club Competitions.