Artistic vision?

It feel’s quite allright to have taken the next step on my journey despite the fact that I don’t have an idea where I’m heading. I’m talking about my website. Eventhough I would still be practicing landscape photography if my dog were the only spectator, I’m gradually intensifying my effort of sharing. The next step? I don’t know. I don’t have to, since I have the privilege of being an amateur. Don’t get me wrong. I’m dead serious about my visual art. But at the end of the day I’m still an amateur in the truest sense of the word. I don’t have to put a pricetag on my work. But I’m quite aware of the value. 

My vision as an visual artist? Well, I guess my artistic vision isn’t fully developed. I’m not in a position where it’s comfortable for me to make a crystal clear artistic statement eventhough I have a tendency to intellectualize everything – I’m exaggerating a bit. And I guess it even might be a bit counterproductive if I force it through. Therefore I don’t. But I have had a few learnings on my journey so far that has shaped me as the unsettled landscape photographer I have become.

One of these in particular was a journey with my son to Iceland in the summer of 2017. We hiked along the beaches of Vestrahorn on the southeastern tip of Iceland. For some reason we had the scenic landscape all to ourselves most of the day. But half an hour before sunset everything changed. An off-road bus arrived at the parking lot of Vestrahorn. A tour guide stepped out of the vehicle: Woolen sweater, impressive beard, knickers and a head higher than everyone else. Everyone else being a group of Chinese landscape photographers, with the best camera equipment you can imagine and clothes that seemed fit for an excursion to Antarctica. On the command of the tour guide they all approached the dunes scouting for the perfect spot for a sublime shot of Vestrahorn in the golden light of the setting sun. The timing couldn’t have been better thanks to the experienced tour guide. I figure everyone got the same result with only slightly dissimilar framing of the scene. Quite ridiculous actually. But everyone seemed to be quite pleased about the setup considering the seemingly uplifted conversation taking place between the passionate landscape photographers. Standing in the dunes of Vestrahorn I realized I was actually looking at myself. I couldn’t detach myself from the scene by pointing the camera at the landscape photographers. You can’t observe without interfering. It’s just like quantum physics I guess. 

The lesson learned? It’s by no means straight forward. But one important point is to have a critical curiosity about my preferences when I explore the world through the viewfinder. I’m done hunting visual trophies representing “being at the right place at the right time”. I acknowledge that timing is still important. But seing is essential. A tour guide can teach you where to look, but never how to see. The side effect of this insight is, that I don’t have to travel to the end of the world, because seing is something I can practice everywhere.   


Copyright Troels Bjerre 2020
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