Landscape photography has long inspired the appreciation of our planet's stunning environments, ranging from long stretches of dark blue seas in the arctic to the rolling plains of the midwest. With legends like Ansel Adams & Carleton Watkins pioneering the way for photographers like myself, and countless others, who are chasing that feeling of inspiration and appreciation a stunning landscape produces deep within the soul. My very first experience with landscape photography taking place at the breath-taking Grand Canyon. It was certainly a life-defining moment for me, I remember strong feelings of both shock and appreciation for such a majestic natural wonder.
Seeing a landscape that moves the soul, reminds people that life is bigger than any one individual, much bigger! This ability to inspire appreciation of the planet's precious and sometimes fragile environments has been the foundation of the relationship between landscape photography and environmentalism around the globe. The Old English adage says it best, a picture is worth a thousand words. With a single photograph an artist can convey the majestic beauty and tremendous economic, historical, and environmental value of these landscapes. Thankfully for our natural landscapes photographers and their work even swayed the views of the many forward thinking presidents, like Abraham Lincoln who was from my home state of Illinois.
In addition to ending slavery, a most desperately needed and amazing accomplishment, (as if wasn't enough amazing doing for one lifetime) Lincoln also created the groundwork for the National Parks System through his initial establishment of the Yosemite Valley in California as a public trust. While Lincoln did the heavy lifting with congress, much of the credit goes to a photographer named Carleton Watkins. Lincoln also established the Department of Agriculture, or USDA, which was a huge success for the U.S. public and the health of the environment, perhaps because of the inspiration Watkins and his work cultivated in him.
According to the USDA website's history page, On May 15, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation to establish the United States Department of Agriculture and two and a half years later in his final message to Congress, Lincoln called USDA "The People's Department." Through our work on food, agriculture, economic development, science, natural resource conservation and other issues, USDA has impacted the lives of generations of Americans.
Knowing the relationship between landscape photography & the nation's environmental conservation, it is easy to see why its such an important genre of photography. The genre has certainly grown in popularity, however there are still fragile environments in need of representation. The issue goes beyond just protecting the beauty of our environment, its about protecting the ecosystems that are in place there. Each plant and animal playing an important role in a complex balance. The more awareness brought to these issues, by professional & amateur photographers alike, the better for not just us, but all the populations making a home on our planet. Thanks to the spread of modern smartphones which come with astonishingly capable cameras we are seeing more of our world than ever. In some cases we see beauty, in some cases we see chaos and irresponsibility. The more aware we are of these environmental situations, both good and bad, the better capable we are of ensuring their conservation.
Now that you've been inspired by the power of landscape photography, go out and find a beautiful landscape to capture, who knows who you might inspire!
Until the next post,