Photographers Who Galvanized Landscape Photography…

…And some who are still experimenting and expanding the genre.

Landscape photography not only changes the way people view the world but challenges the way society engages with spaces. Early images by Felice Beato that captured East Asia in the late nineteenth century exposed the West to new parts of the globe, Martín Chambi‘s shots of Peru and Machu Picchu captured the beauty of the sacred space, Ansel Adams‘s classic images of America’s national parks sparked an early the need for conservation, and contemporary work by Rosemary Laing poses the question of “who owns and occupies land?” The genre has been around as long as the medium itself and is ever-evolving. Here we take a look at four photographers who are some of landscape photography’s most influential players.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams works at auction April 14. Clockwise from top left image: Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, silver print, 1926, printed 1973-77. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000; Frozen Lake and Cliffs, Sierra Nevada, Sequoia National Park, California, silver print, 1927, printed 1973-77. Estimate $10,000 to $15,000; El Capitan, Winter, Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California, silver print, 1968, printed 1973-77. Estimate $7,000 to $10,000; Moonrise from Glacier Point, silver print, 1959, printed circa 1970. Estimate $3,000 to $4,500.

Ansel Adams’ landscapes are far from unrecognizable in most homes, however, there was much more than just capturing the stunning beauty of the American West he was focusing on. As Adams’ spent more time capturing the beauty of nature he became more attuned to the need for protection and preservation of these ever-changing and dwindling landscapes. As time went on the drive to capture these spaces developed into a strive to bring awareness to the need for conservation. 

Related Reading: California Modernism: Photography from Group f/64

Richard Misrach

At auction April 14: Richard Misrach, View from Bombay Beach (Salton Sea), chromogenic print, 1985, printed 1986. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.

Ricard Misrach has utilized landscape photography to tell the stories of the history of modern times. In an interview, Misrach commented, “I’ve come to believe that beauty can be a very powerful conveyor of difficult ideas.” Through the beauty of harsh desolate landscapes, he seeks to convey the juxtaposition of the deeper meaning we have people have given these spaces. 

Rosemary Laing

At auction April 14: Rosemary Laing, Groundspeed (Harrogate Flower) #9, chromogenic print, 2001. Estimate $6,000 to $9,000.

Rosemary Laing’s landscapes can be identified by not only by the vibrant colors but the unexpected objects, furniture, or subjects she places in them. The setup for these images plays the largest part in Laing’s artistry to her “It’s the actions that I undertake that are of primary importance, and making an image of that action and printing it remains like some sort of aftermath, some sort of leftover, that remembers that I undertook the action.” Laing said. 

Laura Gilpin

At auction April 14: Laura Gilpin, Storm over La Bajada Hill, silver print, 1946, printed 1970s. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.

Laura Gilpin has utilized her photography not only to capture the grandiose landscapes of the American South West but the Native people who live there. Gilpin’s focus on the line between nature and our part as humans in it shows a landscape often passed over by other similar photographers, always showing one that has been touched and lived in by people. Her drive to capture both people and landscape as one, made her one of the first women to break into the boys club of great American landscape photographers. 

Do you have notable landscape photography we should look at?

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