Metaphorical Landscapes

You decide!

You decide!

Strong landscape and nature photographs go well beyond mere documentation and representation of place. A strong photograph needn’t represent any realities or truths; it just needs to captivate its viewers and engage their senses and sensibilities. “Scenic” photographs are easy to look at and digest (and unfortunately often momentary), but photographs infused with deeper meaning can command a viewers attention for minutes, hours, and days.

Photography as metaphor (symbols, ideas) tends to be the province of “other” genres (contemporary photography; abstraction; etc.) but is rarely seen in landscape and nature photography. The places we explore and photograph are as rich with metaphorical possibilities as any other place, yet many landscape photographers work only in the literal and representational. Why?

I prefer photographing the unusual, the uncommon, and that which causes me to stop whatever I am doing. Take the attached photo, for instance; one from my Desert Palm Oasis series. It’s just two wild palm tree skirts, but let your mind wander a little. Now what do you see?

Here’s a few more examples of metaphor from my Desert collection:
The American Dream
Water Apparitions
The Bleeding Wall
Mojave Mothership (I did not actually have an alien encounter to get this photograph)

Eschew the representational and seek the personal. Make your photographs about you and the way that you see.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.


15 thoughts on “Metaphorical Landscapes

  1. Excellent essay and illustrations, Michael! It’s hard to push viewers to let go of conventions and see past the inherent desire to simplify and to fit things into neat categories. But, those who learn to open their minds to meanings beyond the literal always reap the greatest rewards from art.


  2. Excellent images. I came across your site as research for my landscape photography project which includes landscapes where missing people are found by search and rescue volunteers. I have found that missing people, mainly male, go to places of beauty, viewpoints or places of fond memories. This confirms that we quite often view landscapes metaphorically or symbolically without realising it. Leslie B.

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