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John Perriment

Unattractive Landscapes

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Some photographers are lucky. They live in areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Lake District where they cannot fail to regularly take masterpieces as a matter of course. Those of us unfortunate to live in more mundane areas are destined to stomp around complaining we have nothing worth photographing whilst dreaming our lives away planning the next trip to some real scenary.

But wait a moment, isn't beauty in the eye of the beholder? Don't we, as photographers, have a creative duty to bring out the best in the subjects that we have before us? All very well, you may say, but where's the creative potential in Essex? All flat muddy fields, nondescript with no features of interest, a vast intensive farming desert devoid of any possible attraction. And that's just the bits that haven't been built on or concreted over! Where's the joy in that? I'm reminded of the humourous song that Mike Harding used to sing many years ago, "It's hard being a cowboy in Rochdale." Well, it sure is hard being a landscape photographer in Essex!

It's certainly a challenge, but in my view not only a worthy one but one that can ultimately prove very rewarding. Just for one moment transpose yourself to the Lake District. Sublime views waiting to be captured around every corner and you're there every day to take advantage. But hey, hasn't that sunset over Derwent Water from the landing stages been done a thousand times before? And not only by Uncle Tom Cobly but also by Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, David Noton and a host of extremely talented professionals and enthusiasts who just happen to have the "luck" of being in the right place at the right time more often than you.

Maybe the grass isn't so green up there after all. Just as well, because I cannot forsee an opportunity on the horizon to move there. One benefit of being an Essex based landscape photographer is that there isn't much competition. Look at this image taken two days ago about a mile from my house.

It may not be a prize winner, but I bet it's better than anything Joe Cornish has got of this scene. In fact, it's probably the best photograph of this patch of arable land near Lindsell in existence. I'd bet it's the only photograph of it in existence, and that gives it an exclusivity that Derwent Water sadly lacks!

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  1. ndl0071's Avatar
    Too true John, sometimes we're just not 'turned on' by our own backyard, perhaps we just need to look a bit harder.
  2. John Perriment's Avatar
    Hi Neil, thanks for looking. I think that wherever you are, if you look hard enough there is always something.
  3. Nick Temple-Fry's Avatar
    Miles and miles of identical sand unbroken except by repetitive dunes, scarcely any item of interest at all. But some great photos have been taken of deserts. So why are they attractive?.

    Pre the 19'th century areas such as the highlands of scotland, wales and the lake district were regarded as brutal, ugly, unpleasant and uninspiring. They've either had a really great make-over or we've totally changed our criteria.

    Surely the point of the photographer is to find/frame/present an image. Not to travel to a prescribed GPS waypoint at exactly the correct time to take the approved photo?.

    So carry on John, find the beauty in Essex. Mayhaps there is more originality and imagination there than trailing after the tail end of the romatic infatuation with crude dramatics.

  4. John Perriment's Avatar
    Thanks Nick,

    I guess as well as a desire to be creative I also have a desire to be different. Often the same thing, of course, but not necessarily.
  5. petrovich's Avatar
    Jon a very interesting item. I live on the edge of the South Downs in Hampshire and I realise that I compare all my work with the greats and there idyllic locations. Your image has been like a slap across the face or a wake up call and from now on I shall look at my picture in context for what it is not as a comparison to say Buttermere on a dreamy evening.

  6. John Perriment's Avatar
    Oh dear, I didn't mean to slap anyone's face - but I know what you mean! The South Downs are very nice with loads of potential; happy shooting during 2010.
  7. Bear's Avatar
    I'm fortunate to live in an area of truly outstanding natural beauty, that is almost always blessed with magnificent light and that has rarely been photographed by the famous yet I can't seem to get it right - just have to keep trying I suppose !
  8. John Perriment's Avatar
    I think c*cking it up is all part of landscape photography, at least in my experience. I've just come back from a re-shoot that didn't go too well a couple of weeks ago and I haven't downloaded yet but I've a sinking feeling that I failed to nail it today, too. But if the weather continues to co-operate I'll be there again tomorrow and the next day as well, if I have to. Each failed shoot is a learning experience rather than a disappointment and I'll keep trying untill I do get it right. That's when concentrating on local scenes is a big advantage, it's much easier to go back for a re-shoot than if the location is hundreds of miles away.