"Life on our planet has been a constant series of cataclysmic events, and we are more suitable for extinction than a trilobite or a reptile. So we will vanish. There's no doubt in my heart."
On the face of it, Herzog's assessment is a fairly pessimistic one. It implies that there is no meaning and that everything is ultimately pointless. But what really interests me about that perspective is how we respond to it. Do we wallow in our transience, or do we create meaning in it’s spite?
I was thinking about this on holiday, away from the bustle of street photography, with it's focus on people, the everyday, the routines. We were on a hillside in Wales, no people around so I was shooting in unfamiliar territory in every sense. But I realised that I could take my modus operandi and apply to this context too.
Whilst working, I always try to have a hook. Some way of approaching my photographs that offers me purpose and direction. It does not do to wander about aimlessly, just taking random pictures. Although to watch me at work, you might say that is exactly what I doing, in reality I am looking for scenes that offer me a certain feeling, that resonate in a particular way. This is really, really important because over time it will create repetition in your work. And repetition is meaning.
So I began to look for compositions that allowed the setting to impose itself on the viewer, vignettes that imply vulnerability in the face of external forces, of being shaped by our environment. I found that I could take those feelings away from street photography and apply them to these images (landscapes I suppose).
I also used another technique from street photography and shot from one place, working the scene. Each image in this little mini series was shot within 10ft of each other - about 50ft from the door of the cottage we stayed in. That’s an oft overlooked point - work the scene and come back often and shoot wherever you are. Try different times of day, different conditions, different directions, same location.
But most importantly, always shoot with a point of view.