This is not a series

Photography, Travel

I’ve been working on a few hundred pictures from Newfoundland this past week, looking, weighing, dismissing and editing what I found worth editing. But uploading them to my website, putting a frame around them and posting them on Flickr, it all felt terribly pretentious all of a sudden. It’s not that I don’t like the pictures, I think they are fine for what they are, vacation pictures. Most of my pictures are vacation pictures, but I usually call them pictures. Not sure this time.

When I’m traveling, there is always this tention between wishing to see as much of the new country as I possibly can, it is wonderful to drive from one place to another and see how landscapes are changing and being used and inhabited. On the other hand: wishing to take it slow and get to know a place before I point my camera in any direction. This time, we were always on the move. Driving, hiking, looking around, always on our way to someplace else. In Austria and Switzerland last year, I don’t remember we were ever in a hurry. We stayed in one place for a week. We spent a whole morning on a mountain top. Strolled around a dam as long as we liked. Came back to the same place at the end of the day. I’m still very pleased with the pictures I took. A different pace of traveling, and I guess it’s only natural to see that difference manifesting itself in the photographic outcome. But it’s also this: the more I look at photography, and the longer I practise it myself, the higher I raise my own bars. Up to a point where my ambitions exceed my capabilities. I’m not that easily satisfied anymore. If I ever were.

This is not a series. They never are. It’s just that I’m more aware of it now. A series suggests that your starting point is an idea, a question or a theme that you want to look into. (I suppose one could construct a series afterwards, but I think that would need to be something long term, which this isn’t either.) I didn’t have an idea when I stepped onto that plane. I never have an idea at the beginning of any of my travels. In fact, I like to know as little as I can before I leave. I’m always poorly prepared. That is how I like to experience new places. I like to learn things along the way. But even if I had one, an idea, I wouldn’t be able to pursue it under the circumstances. Also, in a more formal way (as opposed to a narrative), I feel that a series needs a balance in terms of scale. Details, overviews and things inbetween. And I personally like a mixture of landscape and interior.

It proved harder than before to let go of this idea of a series, of balance, of a whole that adds value to its parts. Possible narratives were flying around in my head as we got to know the new territory a little better. At the same time: wanting to cover it all because everything was interesting. I was thinking: I need a picture of the west coast line, because that kind of landscape is still missing. Or: I should photograph those little road side gardens, because that is so typical for this area. But why? Was it something that was visually striking? Not particular. Was I documenting the landscape of Newfoundland? No, I never intended to. Exhausting. So I tried to just stick to things and images that I would come up against and that I found interesting for what they are, and not to think of these pictures in terms of a future collection of any kind.

That said, I put 26 pictures on my website, in a slideshow. And to make matters worse, I gave it a title. Spring entered late this year. More ice was floating along the shores than usual at this time in June. The greens were still young and fresh. I overheard a conversation in a diner, and someone said: the trees are far behind. About a week or three.

Picture taken at Woody Point. An example of something I came across but wasn’t looking for. I’m quite fond of it, although it’s only half of what it should have been.

2 thoughts on “This is not a series”

  1. Pavel P. says:

    Loving those photos you made on your trip. No matter if you call it series or not. And there are some outstanding pieces….

    • Thanks a lot Pavel : ) The funny thing is, that if you look at a bunch of singles long enough and put them together on a website, they become connected somehow, forming an entity all by their own .

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