Emptiness and Essence

During a recent visit to Tuscany to focus on landscape photography I found myself captivated by the land itself. The initial attraction for me in coming here were the trees and they didn’t disappoint in any way. I created some of my favourite photographs on this trip and most of them feature the cypress trees of Tuscany. In autumn though, after the crops have been harvested, the land has visibly almost fluid-like characteristics.

There are rolls and waves, curves and lines, all blending together in harmonious ways. This land could be an alien world. So in addition to photographing compositions of trees and land, I also photographed simply the land itself. I didn’t think about it too much at the time, and I expected that these photographs might be uninteresting and bland. Lifeless.

 
 Essence I

Essence I

 

After spending some time with the photographs though I started to realise some things.

Firstly, even though these photographs didn’t have a clear arrangement of things (no foreground, mid-ground and background - there was only background) I felt they had presence and they communicated something. In a sense, even though there was no obvious composition, they still had cohesion. This was a surprise to me.

Secondly, even though these photographs had no clear subject, I found that the eye (or perhaps the heart) isn’t content with the absence of a subject and so it will create one, seeking patterns, shapes and things that we can relate to. As such we can see meaning even when there is no obvious meaning.

I started to think about what this approach to photography is. Is this minimalism? In some ways it is clearly a minimal approach but we normally imagine minimal photography to have a subject in a minimal setting. There is no clear subject here. The words that seem to fit most to me are emptiness and essence. The scene is empty of subject but it communicates the essence.

 
 Essence II

Essence II

 Essence III

Essence III