• Steve Ball

Taking a Closer Look: The Landscape within the Landscape

Like many landscape photographers I started out trying to take photographs of the well known honey pot locations, trying to emulate the fantastic images I had seen in magazines or photo books. Occasionally I created a satisfying image but most of the time I returned home disappointed because my photos just didn't stack up when compared to those I had seen others produce. As the years have passed I have realised that the time spent in those locations was in fact time well spent, it allowed me to develop my skills and experience, and gave me a really useful benchmark to assess how my photography was developing. In some ways it was a time to serve my apprenticeship.

On reflection I have recognised that those times also played a huge part in shaping the direction of my photography to where it is today. I still enjoy creating images of the wider vistas, and sometimes they are of well known locations that are displayed abundantly on social media and throughout the photographic press. However, these days I much prefer to spend my time creating images of the landscape that are of a more intimate or abstract nature. In essence I enjoy taking a much closer look at the world around us, looking at the landscape within the landscape. This approach offers a number of benefits. I benefit from a wellbeing perspective because taking a closer look at the inner landscape forces me to slow down, which in turn allows me to switch off from the everyday stresses of life. I recently spent a few hours in a disused quarry in the Lake District, a few hours that actually felt like a few minutes. I became completely absorbed in what I was doing and felt so much better for the experience. An additional benefit results from the fact that this approach to photography often takes me to places which are well off the beaten track and allow me to enjoy the peace

and solitude that is becoming more and more important to me in this chaotic world.

I find this approach is also incredibly rewarding. In addition to visiting and exploring new areas of the countryside, I have a constant feeling of anticipation and positive expectation. I always wonder what I might see or what I might find and that is a great feeling. The biggest reward, however, is the opportunity to take truly unique photographs that nobody else will ever take. Like many artists and photographers I suffer from imposter syndrome and tend to be critical of my work compared to others. However, as I get older I grow more comfortable with accepting the fact that I don't need the approval of others, I just need to enjoy taking photographs that I like. Intimate and abstract landscape photography provides me with those opportunities and a great deal of satisfaction because in many ways it is difficult to make comparison with others because of the individual and unique nature of the images.

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