Donald J. McKenna

I think it is good to make photographs that may appear to have no deeper meaning or greater significance than the thoughtful examination of the subject.

I am delighted when a viewer understands my interpretation and agrees with my conclusion, but I am not disappointed if they do not. Realizing a mutually-meaningful aesthetic experience remains an elusive goal.

If my image makes some connection with a viewer and engages their imagination, I feel my photograph has successfully touched them.

— Donald J. McKenna, St. Louis, Missouri

Larry Sykes

One of my favorite texts, as an architect, is Martin Heidegger’s Building Dwelling Thinking. It asserts that without buildings we can’t really experience the world. The pause and refuge buildings provide give us orientation in a landscape, allowing us to “dwell” there. Buildings make landscapes meaningful to us.

Many old structures at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico — where Georgia O’Keeffe lived, painted and immortalized the incredible landscape — clearly demonstrate Heidegger’s poetic thesis. On the other hand, a group of mid-century bunkhouses I came across during a recent visit to Ghost Ranch are buildings few would accuse of adding any meaning to the landscape. What are in one sense jarringly banal structures also happen to be thoughtful designs in the best traditions of modernism: climate-attuned, economical, cleverly winking toward both old west grit and Palm Springs modern. Their peculiar relationship to the landscape only makes them more interesting to me.

— Larry Sykes, Denver, Colorado

My Blog’s 9th Anniversary!

Nine years ago I founded the New Landscape Photography blog. It continues to bring me joy to share the work of talented contemporary artists.

As social media has taken over the photo-sharing world, I have fewer submissions and so am posting less frequently. But I believe my blog continues to be an excellent place for those who want to present multiple images and an artist statement for a project.

— Willson Cummer, Fayetteville, New York

PS: I made the picture above at Canal Landing, a small park near my home.

John Kinney

I made these photographs in New Orleans the summer of 2018 during my pilgrimage to see Lee Friedlander’s work at the New Orleans Museum of Art. I am drawn to color, space, geometry, and perspective. I strive to have these elements working in tandem in photographs. Additionally, I like to underscore the ephemeral nature of the everyday scenes before us. A photograph is a recording of time, but that image may no longer be present when we view the photograph. Buildings crumble; water fades paint. The title for this series of images is New Orleans. 

— John Kinney, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

Ryan Koopmans

What interest me most are not specific buildings or landmarks, but the lived experiences of the people who interact with them. The built environment has an essential role in shaping a particular society or culture.

The growth of global populations has led to rapid urbanization and the emergence of megacities. The challenges that societies face in adapting to rapid change – both socially and environmentally, but also philosophically and psychologically – is what drives my interest in this dynamic field.

Our “developed” cities are increasingly homogenous spaces. It’s become hard to differentiate one central business district of an urban centre from another. Consumerism, fast entertainment, fast food and multinational corporations are often what underpin our notions of progress.

Nonetheless, hyper-globalization has enabled the rapid sharing of information and ideas around the globe, as well as making transportation more accessible.

I am fascinated with modernity and its environmental and social consequences.

Ultimately, it is the visual nuances that can be found between locations rich and poor, natural and manmade, past and present, that, if you look closely enough, offer an insight into what it means to be a human on this rapidly-changing planet. A book about this work will soon be published by Black Dog Press.

— Ryan Koopmans, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Roger Hopgood

Looking Out, a project in progress, continues my exploration of the way in which modern technology and machinery are often seen as disruptive of “nature” as a retreat from the urban environment. Obvious examples that attract “our” disapproval are structures such as pylons, cell-phone masts and wind turbines. These (from one perspective at least) tend to be regarded as a blight when found in otherwise “untainted” countryside. 

The structures in this series are associated with detection. The radars and telescopes in the work look out from their rural location. The notion of an escape to the countryside is always at odds with a desire to maintain some distance, to objectify and see the non-urban from a subjective vantage point.

As landscapes, these images offer some resistance to this kind of mastery. On the one hand, they gaze out with authority to places beyond our human eye capability. On the other, they collapse into a trope of Picturesque charm. Technology is only disruptive of idealised “nature” when its associations are with contemporary life. Technology with a patina of age has the potential to be absorbed into the bucolic.

Even in the case of the functioning radars and radio telescopes, in their countryside setting they begin to remind us of a certain sub-genre of British science fiction; and as such they too begin to invite a nostalgic desire for the past. In a way, these images represent a tussle between our desire to maintain our ocular advantage (and see the landscape in a way that serves our needs) and our preparedness to give ground and relinquish our self-affirming vantage point. 

— Roger Hopgood, Hastings, United Kingdom

Hubert Michel

My practice of photography is closely related to walking, or rather to wandering. This is how I discover and experience the city and the urban landscapes. My Malta series is an example of my approach.

February 2019. I walk the roads of Malta, in the streets of Valletta, Victoria. I do not plan anything. I rely on my wanderings. My steps build my ride. Poetry is everywhere and in everything. It comes from the banal that attracts me inexorably. Human presence is immanent at these vacant places.

— Hubert Michel, Paris

Brandon Dunning

Signs seem inescapable in our consumer-focused society. Signs are erected and sometimes forgotten until the next business takes over the location, or just left in place to decay.

As signs are being installed, demolished or left to decay the landscape is continually being transformed. There are many moments showing the visual change in between the different states of a sign that show the passing of time. Within all the changes a sign goes through the relationship it has to the landscape and its other natural surroundings changes with it. There is also an element of the human influence on the changing in the landscape which is juxtapose to the surrounding natural environment that changes naturally through the passing of time.

In a state of decay signs are no longer effective as forms of advertisement but the influence on the landscape is still visible through the shapes and forms of what remains.

— Brandon Dunning, North Attleboro, Massachusetts

John Williams (aka Murray Maffra)

The urban conglomeration is of particular interest to me as a photographic subject. The intertwining of transport, utility, domestic, business and industrial infrastructure produces a rich, or sometimes bleak, visual environment. The remnants of earlier enterprise and now-redundant technology often remain in the urban environment, sometimes on a massive scale. This is the case with the gasometer, once ubiquitous in British cities.

The gasometer was a local gas storage device which consisted of a set of open-bottomed telescoping tanks sitting on a water seal and as gas flowed in from the gas works filling the tanks they would rise up guided by the surrounding frame. Many gasometers have been demolished since the creation of a national grid for gas storage and distribution, but some have stood firm to loom over the urban landscape.

The gas tanks no longer rise up inside the guiding structure, but stay submerged, invisible in the ground and empty of gas. These skeletons from a different era can be seen gathered in groups or alone on the metropolitan horizon. Or, viewed from between the buildings of a narrow street, reveal a segment of a silent sentinel towering over the homes, shops and pubs of the local community. I am happy that some of these are still a feature of the urban landscape.

— John Williams (aka Murray Maffra), The Hague, The Netherlands

William Mark Sommer

All The Time In The World

As our childhood memories slip we navigate into this new world of adulthood. We transition into this new unfamiliar phase, a completely different landscape of thought. This metaphorical landscape of youth expression transforms our lives, but we can never pin down their meanings until they already passed. We create myths of our own past to comprehend these fleeting moments that never came back us. As time goes on we return to these places of our youth only to recognize that it is not the same, just a forgotten memory of what used to be, what used to be ourselves.

These fleeting moments of life have always troubled me. They are incredibly powerful to us at the time of living it, just to be unrelentingly forgotten later. All The Time In The World came out of my need to capturing these moments of youth as a way to live within them forever. These photos depict some of my closest memories from finding first love, road tripping around California to enjoying the slow days cliff jumping with friends. These universal interactions between us no matter how forgettable make us into who we are.

— William Mark Sommer, Sacramento, California