Landscape Photography

History of Landscape Photography

Landscape photography emerged from the tradition of painting the natural world. The earliest photographs, such as Louis Daguerre’s Parisian street scene and skyline in “Boulevard du Temple” (1838), were technically landscape photos. Easier access to cameras led to a desire to capture the surrounding environment on film, perhaps to restore a nostalgic image of a world untouched by industry. Many photographers in this era documented the American landscape and frontier. As modernism rose in 20th century painting, its effects trickled into photographic practices. Landscape photographers used newer methods like zooming and cropping to create abstract compositions of the natural environment. The definition of the landscape evolved with the introduction of urban cityscapes and industry. While some photographers continued to photograph natural scenes to preserve them in the face of this industrialization, others embraced this new scenery with cityscape compositions and road trip documentation. Today, novices and experts alike still create landscape photography art to explore the relationship between humans and our habitat.

Landscape Photography Techniques

Artists have experimented with a variety of landscape photography techniques to create landscape compositions across styles and movements. In early practices, many photographers felt the need to demonstrate that photography, though a technical process, could still yield creative and artistic results. These pictorialist photographers blurred and softened the focus of their landscape compositions so they approached the atmospheric aesthetic of a painting or drawing. In contrast, photographers following naturalism were encouraged to embrace the mechanical aspects of the medium rather than attempt to mimic other art forms. Modernist photographers were more concerned with creating abstract photographs of the natural world by cropping and/or zooming in on subjects such as flowers and tree branches.

Artists Known For Landscape Photography

Ansel Adams, known for his images of the American West and the Yosemite Valley, is one of the most recognized landscape photographers. Yosemite National Park even houses a landscape photography gallery featuring his works. William Henry Jackson is also famed for his landscape images of the American West and the area that is now Yellowstone National Park. Edward Weston, known for creating studies of natural plants and vegetables, and modernist photographer Alfred Stieglitz are associated with abstract close-cropping and zooming techniques. Photographers associated with taking photos of the urban landscape along their road trips include Ed Ruscha, Garry WInogrand, Lee Friedlander, and Robert Frank. Other artists known for their fine art landscape photography include Galen Rowell, Alex Boyd, Marc Ferrez, Robert Adams, William A. Garnett, Stephen Shore, Fred Judge, Ben Heine, and Mark Gray.