My fascination with landscape photography began during my time at art school in Boston in the 1970's, where I first discovered the works of the masters who had changed photography from a technical pursuit into a serious art form: Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Paul Caponigro and Wynn Bullock, among others. I was inspired by their ability to capture the textures and tones of nature in such a beautiful and creative way, using only camera, film and shades of black and white.
Although I ended up majoring in graphic design/illustration and that has been the serious money-making side of my career, photography has always remained the one thing that I do in my own way and at my own pace, never thinking of it as work. Researching and finding wild locations, patiently anticipating the light and the weather, often at the twilight times of the day and often totally alone with nature, has allowed me to see and experience unique visions that I otherwise could never have imagined. In my mind, that is reward enough for any effort involved.
During my time in school, there was of course no digital photography (or even computers) and I learned primarily black & white technique; those were the days of developer tanks, trays, enlargers... and lots of trial and error during the printing process. I find now however, that living in California with all the colorful beauty of the Southwest readily available, combined with recent technical advances in digital photographic printing, has shifted my emphasis towards color work. That said, I will always have a special appreciation for fine monochrome images and still love creating them when appropriate.
Besides those mentioned, some other artistic influences over the years include the watercolors of Andrew Wyeth, the Pre-Raphaelite painters of the 19th century and the realistic oil paintings of John Singer Sargent. These historic artists have inspired my style and continue to do so as I produce my own work. Probably you will find a “painterly” feel to the light and color in many of my photographs.
As for tools and technique... although I began using digital cameras as soon as they became practical for high quality work, these days I prefer to work with a combination of medium and large format films, as well as digital capture, depending on the situation and my muse of the moment. Film is indeed more difficult, slower and expensive to use, but the super fine detail and natural richness make it well worth the extra work, and I hope it will continue to be available as an artistic option.
After spending nearly 25 years in San Diego, I currently live and work in the small village of Idyllwild, California, high up in the forested San Jacinto mountains near Palm Springs... a very pleasant world apart from typical urban southern California.
Mark Alan Meader