part 1, exercise 1 – preconceptions

when I hear the word landscape, what do I think of?

This first exercise is notionally very simple: write 300 words that explore what the term ‘landscape’ means to you.

  • What does it immediately evoke?
  • What sort of images and ideas come to mind?
  • Are there certain sorts of landscapes that you have a preference for?
  • Which landscapes do you feel an urge to photograph?

The purpose of this activity is to get you thinking about traditions and conventions within landscape practice, and encourage you to consider why (and indeed whether) they exist. It will also serve as an interesting reference point when you come to the end of the course.

– LPE Coursebook, p.26

the edge of the rainforest, from the air

Landscape is a physical thing: ‘the landscape.’ It’s what you see laid out before you, when you stand at a viewpoint. It draws your gaze out from the foreground, up (or maybe down, if the viewpoint is an elevated one) and off towards a distant horizon. You can feel yourself drawing in a deep breath in the presence of landscape. Landscape is spacious.

burray, from holm

Landscape is rural and green. It may be have been tamed and gently rounded or it may be bleak and jagged.  Landscape can be nostalgic and landscape can be sentimental, harking back to an earlier, better way of life. If the landscape contains obvious signs of modernity such as barbed wire or pylons or tarmac roads or machinery, these things probably should not be dwelled upon.


Landscape is a genre of painting, now shared with photography.  Landscape takes a step back; it provides context rather than a single, isolated detail. If the action of people depicted within the landscape is what makes it interesting, it is probably no longer a landscape. If a landscape depicts the sea it is a seascape; if it depicts the urban environment it is a cityscape.


Landscape is considered; a landscape photograph is not a simple snapshot. Landscape is stillness, interrupting motion. If I am walking, or on my bike; if I am driving somewhere in a car and have a sudden urge to stop and to look;  if I chance upon something which seems characteristic and will help me remember a place – these things all are triggers for my making something that may be termed a landscape.

clapton from walthamstow marshes

‘Landscape’ is one of the two fundamental formats available for a photograph or a print (the other is ‘Portrait.’). It is, of course, possible to take pictures of a place with your camera held vertically, just as you can make pictures of people with the long side of the frame parallel to the horizon, but there still are  people who will tut and wag their fingers at you.

There are rules to landscape; but, of course, rules can be broken.

We are also asked to write a few words to explain why we are taking this particular course. Those words can be found here

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