If there are stories in landscape, how are they told if not through a form of language? In the search to define and codify the language of landscape, photography became a form of inquiry, my seeing more intense, my photographs more focused, the camera an instrument of discovery and expression across biomes and cultures.
Comparing photographs—many miles, years, or lives apart—shows how landscapes play out their themes in particular ways, each a peculiar record of natural and human history, but it also helps me discern common patterns in the physical, biological, and cultural processes that shape all landscapes. Searching for such associations and correspondences, I sift through photographs to draw out the shape and structure of implicit ideas, arranging images in pairs and sequences, searching for pattern. My work on the language of landscape began this way many years ago. Twelve photographs selected from thousands, in six sequenced pairs, were a starting point. Gradually, through these and many other juxtapositions, patterns emerged. Each image a thought, each pair an idea, each series or sequence an argument. Ultimately, the logic of the photographs—singly, and arranged in pairs and sequences—and the writing that came from them and informed them led to a broader theory of a language of landscape.
My book, The Language of Landscape, describes, in words, the elements, grammar, poetics, and polemics of this language. These photo essays are an argument for the language of landscape, in the form of a visual poem.