I take a lot of pictures. Not as many as I used to, because instead of just randomly clicking away and hoping I get something worthwhile, I now set up and compose every picture with a lot of intent, which leads to much less crap. Still, looking back through my portfolio it’s apparent that for every picture I offer as a print, everything I’d let out into the world with my name on it, I have thousands that I never let make the cut. Even for every picture I used to post on social media I’d have dozens that never made it off the camera. Most of my favourite pictures have been taken right out around where I live. Some of the most beautiful mountains in the world start only an hour away from me, and although I love going there, and have gotten a few gems worthy of being turned into prints, the bulk of my work is made on the prairie.
Over the years I’ve probably spent thousands of hours (and dollars) just traveling around gravel roads in my own backyard. Sometimes the sky will light up and you’ll get an amazing sunset, and sometimes nothing will happen at all and you’ve got to improvise to not make the trip a waste. If you can’t make beautiful art in the place you know best, then you probably can’t make it anywhere. Sure that picture of Moraine lake is nice, but it doesn’t mean you did anything special in making it, it just means Moraine Lake itself is nice. I used to tell new photographers to go to Moraine Lake and take pictures. It’s impossible to not come away with a nice picture, and although doesn’t do much for improving skill, it surely makes people coming away more confident in themselves because they think they took this amazing award winning picture, and that confidence will make them better in the long run.
Anyway, what is beautiful art anyway? Fucked if I know. Research the most expensive photographs ever sold. Some are okay, most are not. Peter Lik isn’t even included in most lists because the art industry doesn’t like him. Because he sold it personally and didn’t go through Christie’s NY auction. There’s some with historical significance, there’s an Ansel Adams on there, but then there’s just pure shit being sold for millions of dollars *cough*rheinII*cough*. Pictures that if I took would just sit in my archives because I wouldn’t attach any value to them. So my point? Just keep on clicking. Even if you don’t end up with some grand beautiful picture someone somewhere might like it, and more importantly you might like it. Even if you don’t get anything you like at least you’ll know you tried, practiced, probably improved skills even if you don’t notice you did.
Here’s two pictures I took recently on random drives around the country. I wouldn’t offer them as prints. I don’t particularly like them even, but hey, may as well throw them out into the world and see if anyone else does. Maybe some weird art dealer in New York will decide they’re worth thousands, and if not well, it was still a better evening that sitting around watching tv.