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On Capturing The Feeling Of A Place

“On…..” Is a new series of short form essays (under 500 words) accompanied by a single image. Welcome to part one.

As is probably true of many photographers, I have spent a large portion of my photography career concentrating on the technical aspects of photography. What settings do I need to adhere to?, how do I make this image as sharp as possible?, what aperture is required?, what focus settings should I use?. The list is almost endless and It can be quite frankly overwhelming, and in my opinion detrimental to creating your best work.

Now don’t get me wrong. It is of course important to learn the fundamental techniques of photography and be able to use your camera efficiently, but it shouldn’t be your first concern when you are in the field making images.

For me, it is the creative process that is the most important, and what I find is essential, is establishing a connection with the landscape you have chosen to capture. This is when you stop simply making representational images of a location, but can capture the feeling of that place.

It is actually, very hard to explain in words what I mean by this, which may seem quite odd as I have chosen to write about the topic! Let me provide some context. When I recently posted this image on Twitter, I received what I think is the most meaningful and positive comment I could have imagined - “You have captured the feeling of this place”. This got me to thinking, and it actually made me quite emotional. Someone has viewed my image, and responded to it in exactly the way that I hoped they would.

I honestly believe that this image, and others that have been made on the Cornish Coast are successful because of the special and personal connection that I have with this particular part of the world. It excites me just to think about being on the Cornish Coast, and when I am there with my camera, I feel like I can truly express myself by making abstract images.

When I look back at this image, I instantly feel lighter, calmer, and happier. I can relive the experience I had when I made the image. I have captured a little bit of what my own personal paradise is - summer evenings on the Cornish Coast, barefoot in the sand and surf, gorgeous late evening light, sensational colours, with my camera in hand.

And the fact that people may choose to view the image, and perhaps take away a similar feeling, or at least a feeling that they have seen something they enjoy to look at, is really quite a humbling feeling. There are two reasons that I take photographs - The first is for my own mindfulness, and the second is the opportunity to help others with theirs.

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