A Photo Teacher |

Mt Helix

Senior Project:  Meanings of Space and Place in the Photographic Landscape

As intimate as our own backyards, the sheer awe of the natural landscape or the congestion of freeways, strip malls and suburban development, photographers have been interested in exploring the landscape to gain a greater understanding and sense of meaning within our ideas of space and place. Not since the middle of the nineteenth century has the question of what we are doing within the land we occupy been so central to interpretation by photographers.


© Francis Frith


Early on, photographers including William Henry Jackson, Timothy O’Sullivan, and Carlton E. Watkins, responded to the wonderment and awe of the frontier with the expansion of America west. These early landscape photographers sought to capture vistas of spectacular beauty and untamed wilderness empty of civilization within the traditions of romanticism as suggested by landscape painting of the time. The photographs revealed the grand scale of atmospheric space and the particularities of places. The myth of the American landscape was further reinforced with photographs of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston as the West grew increasingly more populated. Yosemite, the Pacific Coast and the expanses of the desert were places that remained pristine, and were photographed with the romantic urge to preserve what was rapidly disappearing.

With the escalating development in the land, the vision of the landscape became less innocent and by the middle of the twentieth century photographers began to re-consider our relationship to the landscape. While still engaged in the desire to record our sense of place, these contemporary photographers including Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz and Lee Friedlander, focused on the culture of nature and how we’ve come to occupy a space and place. Their photographs questioned the myth of the natural landscape, revealing how the landscape has been transformed by our presence and the cultural, political, spiritual and scientific meanings of this adaptation on the land. For the landscape photographer, the present challenge lies in making photographs that address our ideas of the landscape in ways that make sense out of contemporary experience. Does such a place of natural beauty still exist? Or can beauty and revelation be discovered in our transformation of space?


Mt. Helix Senior Project Calendar

Mondays | 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm


9 | 17 – Monday

Presentation | Discussion of Photographic Seeing, including Beyond The Surface | Thinking About Photographs


9 | 24 – Monday

Presentation | Discussion of Photographic Seeing, including Seeing Photographs


10 | 1 – Monday

Discussion | Demonstration of The Camera and The Lens | Light and Image Exposure


10 | 8 – Monday

Discussion of Meanings of Space and Place in the Photographic Landscape and Developing Ideas and Conceptual Consideration | Approaches

Spotlight | Ron Jude

Spotlight | Ramiro Gomez

Spotlight | Pace/MacGill Gallery (Mark Klett, Richard Misrach, JoAnn Verburg)

Spotlight | Fraenkel Gallery (Robert Adams, Lee Friedlander)


10 | 29 – Monday

Presentation | Discussion on Digital Image Workflow, Processing and Management – Adobe Bridge | Lightroom | Photoshop | Input – Principles of ScanningDigital Photographic Printing