I eat, sleep and breathe landscape photography (when I'm not at my day job). I have always felt a reverence and awe for the power and beauty of nature. As a young child, my first word was "tree" - said as I stared up in wonder at my family's apple tree. Since then, my love of the wild has only grown, and landscape photography has provided me with a means to connect more deeply with this primal force.
There is so much to love about landscape photography. The grandeur, the epic light, the massive scale of it all. It gets you out in nature, to see new places, and to see old places in new ways. I'm more introverted, and unlike most other genres of photography, I can chose to shoot all by myself or with good company. Getting up before sunrise or staying out after sunset ensures that you'll have places at their least crowded. The slower pace of this craft is meditative and healing, because it encourages a different state of mind that allows me to observe the scene intimately and under many different conditions. Because of changing weather, light and seasonality, the landscape is different everytime I visit, which tests my ability to plan, pre-visualize, anticipate, and improvise.
I'm lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest - surrounded by water, giant trees and beautiful mountains, where inspiration is literally staring at me from my office window. My influences are many, including some truly amazing photographers, past and present - some masters of brilliantly nuanced composition, others with a special talent for predicting and capturing those elusive and fleeting moments of changing light, and some are pushing the technical envelope in terms of what's possible in the digital darkroom. What they have in common is that they are great story-tellers, taking their viewers on journeys, where we can feel a sense of mood, energy, emotion, mystery, drama, and/or adventure. I hope to combine a hint of these aspects in my own work, though I'm constantly humbled and motivated by how far I have yet to go.
In addition, I draw great inspiration from sources outside of the photographic medium. I’m greatly moved by Hollywood fantasy films such as The Lord of the Rings, with its dark, dramatic and dreamy scenery. Similarly, I’ve been inspired by the Luminism painters of the 19th century, like Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran, whose work is characterized by it’s high-contrast, atmospheric and glowing landscapes.
Cameras do not and will probably never capture nature the way we experience it with our senses. Rather than simply documenting the scene at hand, the challenge I give myself is to craft and imbue my imagery with a richness that speaks of my experiences as best I can within the limits of this two-dimensional medium. I don't want my viewers to see the scene; I want them to feel it. My art has become a way for me to communicate to others the thoughts and emotions that moved me, with the greatest hope of conveying why I made the shot. With every finished work, I try to breathe life to those feelings. By using modern post-processing techniques I aim to bring the viewer into the scene, hopefully giving them a chance to feel the scene too.
My driving force is not the end image, but rather the inner experience of personal expression. Exploring new places or finding new ways to see familiar ones is creatively and emotionally fulfilling. I have found no easier way to enter the elusive flow state – that feeling of completely losing yourself to the moment and being totally immersed in the current of life. In this flow, I'm able to tune in to the primal forces of wilderness and adventure, allowing my mind to become calm and clear and allowing fear to melt away. Since my day job revolves around common Western corporate priorities of productivity and results, this artform provides immeasurable joy and balance to my life. I cherish my times in the wild, removed physically and emotionally from the mass of humanity. And in the height of such experiences, my camera is the best tool I know to express the significance of such meaningful and fleeting experiences.
Join me on the journey!
-- James Lorentson