With scorching temperatures and bushfire smoke outside, watching the Sochi Winter Olympics on television over the past week has been a welcome escape. As I watch the world's best winter athletes hurtle down terrifying slopes, soar in the air and dance gracefully on ice, the word passion comes to mind. Training over the last four years in preparation for their events, many athletes and their supportive families have inspirational stories of dedication and sacrifice. Enduring injuries, early rises, cold and financial pressures they train day in, day out pursuing their dream. After pushing through the pain and pouring heart and soul into their event, the difference between first and last may be as little as a fraction of a second or point. While every athlete dreams of winning gold, the honour to represent one's country and earn the title of Olympian clearly burns deep within. If we were to approach our lives with a fraction of their dedication, focus and passion, what would we be able to accomplish?
As I consider the question of passion and landscape photography, I believe that passion for photography itself is only half the puzzle. Many of us approach photography with an initial interest which develops as we enthusiastically spend our waking hours learning the craft and refining our skills. This initial interest then quickly blooms into a passion for photography as we keenly capture life and the world around us. Landscape photography with many factors outside our control however, requires more than a passion for photography itself, we need a deep love for our subject. It is this passion for the landscape and its story which draws the photographer out in the dead of night to chase star trails, rise early day after day seeking the perfect sunrise or wait patiently for hours in pouring rain just for a momentary break. Often the most memorable photographs arise when we battle the elements to capture a scene which has touched our hearts.
'Sweet Light, Stanley Tasmania' is definitely an image which lifts my spirits when bad weather closes in and the elements conspire against me. I had arrived in Stanley as a series of strong cold fronts passed through Tasmania's North West, bringing driving rain, strong wind and heavy sea spray to the coast. As the days passed, I patiently struggled against the elements on Godfrey's Beach watching each sunrise and sunset fade with barely a hint of colour. On my last evening however, the weather finally cleared leaving a layer of soft broken cloud lingering above. As the sun set, sweet red light washed across the landscape painting the sky and land. If my passion was limited to photography itself with only a passing interest in the landscape, I may well have watched this beautiful moment from the Stanley Hotel as an order of mouth watering cobb loaf and chicken parmigiana arrived at my table.
With 2014 passing quickly, lets fall in love with the landscape and approach our photography inspired by the dedication, focus and passion of our athletes in Sochi.
I'm not so sure about "the love for a subject" that motivates us to create a specific image. I do see it a bit broader as in something that raises our interest and then we connect with it. This trigger can be anything, colour, structure, lighting, ... , but we need to be aware of it so we are focused on actually capturing what we experience. I believe it is this experience that we try to capture and when not successful are disappointed when looking at the image ourselves when editing, or everyone else looking at it cold "is not getting".
That's funny. I've had the same thoughts during the Sochi saga these past 2 weeks... passion! Determination. Passionate landscape photographers are a rare breed I think. I know loads of landscape shooters, but very few I'd describe as passionate about their subjects, locations and the entired process from start to finish. You definitely fall into that passionate category Chris, and I've developed the passion from what was a hobby, in no small part thanks to spending time around the passionate, such as Ken Duncan and yourself.