As a genre, landscape photography is pretty broad, full of niches and sub-niches that become specializations of their own. In this short video, photographer Brendan van Son attempts to create seven different types of landscape images in as short a period as possible, and just about pulls it off.
Nestled in the merging waters of the Pacific Ocean and the China Sea, the Filipino archipelago of Batanes is a stunning location and provides an ideal setting in which to challenge yourself when it comes to adding diversity to your portfolio. With extensive hills, mountains and coastlines, you would struggle not to come away from a few days of exploration without some remarkable shots. Van Son takes the diversity of landscape photography as a concept and makes a very solid attempt at various sub-genres, blessed with some incredible light.
For me, Van Son’s video is a useful reminder not to get too stuck in one line of landscape photography for risk of limiting your creativity. Sometimes, it’s good to break out the long lenses and compress the world in front of you, especially to give a more varied and accurate impression of a particular location.
Trying to classify each image as a particular type is a little tricky, as categorizations tend to be inconsistent given their blurred boundaries and lots of overlap, and it’s probably not useful to see Van Son’s video as a box-ticking exercise, but rather as a means of pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone.
Attempts to define certain types of landscape photography are further complicated by the slipperiness of the word “landscape” itself, with entire books written on the word’s meaning. As a visual form, its history is shaped by power relations and idealized images that are invested with cultural and social significance.