Osmosis - A gradual, often unconscious process of assimilation or absorption.
Some landscapes come to us when we are ready to receive them. Not the other way around.
Last weekend I was running my umpteenth workshop in Torridon - a very special mountainous place here in the Scottish highlands.
Although I've always had a love for the place, I've often found it extremely difficult to make images here, until recently. I think I've learned to understand this landscape more through the act of being a workshop teacher. Consider this statement by Brian Eno:
"You don't really understand your own ideas, until you try to articulate them to somebody else. Also, in the process of articulating, you find yourself saying things you didn't know you knew" - Brian Eno
This has often been a case for me whilst running my workshops. I discover that I knew something I didn't know I knew. And also, that through the process of having to explain something to someone else, my own understanding of a place, or a photographic concept becomes clearer.
I've found teaching workshops in Torridon immensely rewarding in this respect. The landscape is fractured and complex. It is not a simple landscape to make good images from, and it requires you to see that many of the stones, trees and bracken all have similar tonal relationships. When these tones are compressed down into a 2D image, they often merge, and become very confused and jumbled as a result. 'Separation' between objects within the frame becomes key. Through this awareness, my eye has become more finely-tuned.
The image you see at the top of this post was made last weekend while we were busy trying to work with competing elements. It has taken me around 13 years to get to a point where I can look at a scene and know how best to deconstruct it down to a few elements that will work as a photograph. Through this time, I have often asked myself questions about my work, and I've often had to explain it to others.
As creative people, we have to listen to ourselves and become more aware of our own thoughts. It is only through a sense of internal-dialogue, and a sense of inquisitiveness about how we choose to approach landscape photography, that we are able to progress as artists.
In the video above, you'll see Brian Eno and Ben Frost discuss the creative process. I found it fascinating to hear Ben mention that he finds his work seems to be a kind of diary. I think this is true of my own photography: my images are a sounding board that show where I was, creatively speaking. They are a record of my photographic development.
Ben is in-tune with his creativity - he understands where he has been and where he is now. This is perhaps a fundamental skill that all creative people should possess, or at the very least, be learning to tune into.