2013 was, for me, a bit of a frustrating year photographically but, like the best Hollywood films, it all came good in the end. Consequently, picking twelve images to represent my best work of 2013 has been a difficult challenge…
The year started in early March with a trip to Ticino in southern Switzerland, which provided a haul of decent images but sadly nothing that really grabbed me. I felt I was coasting; revisiting the old familiar locations in the hope of finding something new but instead coming away with images that came close but ultimately missed the mark.
In May, I found myself in the canton of Valais, hoping that things might go better. Yet here too I was making far too many images that simply failed to deliver. Three images stood out but I was still left with the feeling that my photography wasn’t moving forward:
Looking back, of course, I see now that two of these three images point to interesting new directions and offer the possibility of a couple of projects. Last May, it didn’t feel that way and a summer trip to the Jura mountains did little to lift my sense of frustration. It wasn’t until an autumn visit to the Engadine region, coupled with a return to Ticino, offered the chance to explore some new locations that I really started to enjoy my photography again. I approached the trip with excitement, thinking about what I might find. The chance to shoot larches in full autumn glory was high on my list of must-shoot subjects but I also wanted to visit the Morteratsch glacier and to shoot some locations at the far end of Ticino’s Verzasca valley that have so far eluded me.
A hike into Switzerland’s only national park (an almost totally unspoilt area of pristine alpine forests and meadows) yielded my personal favourite image of larches:
A couple of days later and I was hiking the easy path to the Morteratsch glacier where signs at regular intervals chart the shrinkage of the ice since 1900. What was scary wasn’t that the glacier has retreated around 3km in little over a century but that it has retreated a further 300m since 2010! I walked there with my large format camera and made a total of four images, of which the best is this:
I then drove to my next base in Locarno for two very productive days in the Verzasca and Bavona valleys. Two hikes of 9km to hunt for particular waterfalls I had seen previously when scouting using Google Earth led me to a couple of remote areas crammed full of photogenic chutes, falls and cascades. I made several images but these are my two favourites:
A ‘drive-by’ opportunity in the Val Bavona completed a satisfying haul:
My photographic year largely ended with a workshop at the very tip of the UK, in Cornwall. Ever since 2006, I have attended at least one workshop or photographic holiday led by either David Ward or Joe Cornish (or, as on this occasion, by both together) per year. For me, these workshops offer the chance to catch up with friends old and new; to photograph with like-minded people in some great locations but, most importantly, to view the work of the other participants and to have my own efforts critiqued by Joe and David.
This time what amazed me was the sheer variety of styles and approaches shown in the work of the others on the course. It was an eye-opener – especially seeing the work of some people who were new to me. I have written elsewhere about the lamentable stylistic convergence which seems to be happening in the landscape genre- due in no small part to the massive volume of imagery on the Internet and the prevalence of ‘honeypot’ locations – but here at least were a group of people all intent on exploring their own individual approaches to landscape photography. It was hugely inspirational and encouraging and I have accordingly included four images made during that workshop in my pick of the year:
Thank to Joe and David’s help, I now have more of a sense of direction and some ideas to take into 2014 and I am looking forward to a much less frustrating (hopefully!) year ahead.
And finally, a happy New Year to all of my readers. Yes, both of you! 😉