"I'm starting to come to the conclusion that perhaps landscape photographers don't actually know how to talk about landscape photography." ~ Tom Hogan, writing about The Luminous Landscape on his Recommended Products page.
About a month ago, I was tempted to write a rather scathing post about Michael Reichmann's The Luminous Landscape and this little tidbit brought back my focus to the subject. Actually it was to be about Mr. Reichmann's stated self-dillusional claim that the TLL "site is completely (his emphasis) non-commercial". That claim is immediately followed by 2 large ads for; 1)a subscription to The LL Video Journal - $179.95 for 9 issues/DVDs, and 2) his hard cover book, Bangladesh - $29.95. Clicking on "What's New" will take you to a rich assortment of "openings" on Mr. Reichmann's various photography travel/expedition workshops - book now, they're filling up fast - and other book (ex. - How To Master Landscape Photography) and workshop offerings from a favored few associates.
Now, perhaps Mr. Reichmann's definition of "commercial" is different from that held by the rest of the world, but if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck...
To be fair, there is an assortment of articles, but, to quote Tom Hogan again, "Michael doesn't quite seem to know what he wants the site to be when it grows up, so it tends to follow his latest curiosity and gear interest at the expense of consistency and focus. Given the name, you'd think this would be a place where you could easily answer the question "how do I take the best possible landscape photos?" Sometimes you'll get pieces of that answer here; other times you'll just get highly subjective gear lust pieces."
To which I would add that most of the photography-related articles (non gear-related) are of the "camera club" variety - heavy on technique that is slanted towards creating "masterful" ("perfectly" exposed and composed), "luminous" (it's all about the light, folks), and "artful" (I distort [romanticise] the reality of the landscape because I am an artist and it's how I see it) photographs.
All in all, I would have to say that Mr. Reichmann has a very popular and successful commercial enterprise that caters well to the photo hobbyist. I have no problem with that. It's his incessant insistence that TLL is something other than that which irks me. He also thinks himself to be an Artist. I think he's an artist, but we won't venture into that bailiwick/boondoggle.
But, back to Tom Hogan's statement re: don't actually know how to talk about landscape photography.
I like looking at landscape photography more than I like talking about it. However, when I do talk about it - be sure to visit my blog, The Landscapist, to see what I'm talking about - I tend to talk more about the medium of photography in general than landscape photography in particular. That said, I have been somewhat possessed for a while to contibute ideas and notions aimed towards creating a New Landscape Manifesto.
That is to say, a manifesto that reflects the reality of times. One that addresses David Hockney's assertation that "If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He's not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he's really needed..." One that addresses the notion that what is true is most often beautiful. One that addresses intent and responsisibility. One that admits that if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
In short, a New Landscape Manifesto that recognizes that photography matters, not only to the Artist who makes it, but also to the culture that embraces it.
Anybody want to talk about that?
PS. If you do, start here on this post, but, if the interest is there, I will open a Manifesto Discussion Forum so the topic stays on view in the Navigation section.
FEATURED COMMENT: Joel Truckenbrod wrote. "Mark, off topic a bit, but I wanted to mention that your "Lake Placid from Whiteface" photo is..."
Publisher's comment: Joel, thanks very much for the positive feedback on my photograph. I appreciate it very much, but I do want to mention (for all of you out there) that commenting on my photographs is most often not "off topic" in as much as the photographs that accompany my commentary are; 1) chosen because they relate in some way to the topic at hand, or, 2) the topic at hand is a direct by-product of the accompanying photograph.
NOTE TO ONE AND ALL - please feel free to comment on any photography posted on The Landscapist. More than anything, the photography is ultimately what it's all about. Although, I often wonder about Carl Donahue's question, "What if the hokey-pokey is what it's all about?"