LANDSCAPE/NATURE CATEGORY WINNER
Originally a landscape painter, American photographer Benjamin Everett explores the relationship between painting and photography with his camera.
© BENJAMIN EVERETT
What is your background in photography?
In reference to the mechanics of a camera (f-stop, shutter speed, ISO), I’m entirely self-taught. But my education regarding design thinking and picture making is influenced by studying both art and architecture in college and my professional career as a graphic designer.
What do you try to achieve through your photographic work?
A blending of the internal and the external. The landscape we physically inhabit and share, along with the meditative personal landscape we all have available inside. I travel to a lot of places but hope to make interpretive images that are as much a self-contained experience as they are a travelogue pointing to a place in the world.
Led by enjoyment and intuition, my most successful images seem to come from a sense of creative play.
How would you describe your photographic style?
Painterly. I don’t think about style much, but most of my influence comes from painting: showing multiple perspectives or moments in time, within one frame, could be like cubism; the interest in light from impressionism; following emotion over literal reality from expressionism; the heroic depiction of nature in romanticism; breaking with any rules about photography or single frame restrictions would be modernist.
What is your Masters series about?
Each image represents a highly personal reaction to the landscape – an inquiry into a specific idea or feeling, drawn out of a singular time and place. That place may be the landscape itself or removed to the internal landscape of dreams and reflection later on. Many of my favorite American painters spent time in the landscapes of the Southwestern United States. The clean lines and shapes of the desert lend themselves particularly well to interpretation. My goal with this series was to explore the relationship between painting and photography by using landforms that often look like brush strokes, as brush strokes themselves. There is a strong correlation between the quality of lines in art and design and the quality of lines found within landscapes that nature itself has most evidently manipulated in the form of arid windswept dunes and the eroded fractal curves of desert badlands. Each of my images is an innovative collaboration with these places. Since both photography and painting come with assumptions about how they represent truth or reality, their combination explores a landscape somewhere between the two.
How was your experience using a Hasselblad medium format camera for carrying out your project?
The camera is a joy to use, and the image quality is incredible. The dynamic range makes it more forgiving, yet the detail and naturally shallow depth of field that comes with medium format makes it more demanding. The interface is clear and easy to use, so the learning curve was a breeze. Simple things, like the ability to extend the exposure time past 30 seconds in a camera, seems like a luxury. It wasn’t until I returned home and started to work with the files that their scale actually hit me. I zoomed in on an image doing some detailed editing and realized that if I was working on a printed image at that scale, it would be the size of my entire wall, in crisp clear detail. (This also explained an increased editing time.) Overall, I’ve never used a camera that seemed so well suited to the way I work. By the end of the trip, I started to look at it as though it was a good friend.