I opened the cover of a new landscape photography periodical I had just received called Land/Sea and began browsing the photos and words as I walked into my kitchen. Twenty minutes later I realised I had been blithly oblivious, planted in the middle of the room, completely entranced by its pages. I felt like I'd just been on a wonderful trip.
This stunning piece of escapism is the first volume of Land/Sea, a labour of love conceived by the founders of Triple Kite Publishing, photographers David Breen and Dav Thomas. Through the periodical they seek to showcase the very best of the UK's most innovative landscape photographers. Cleverness with soul. You'll see.
What I love most about this volume is the range of diverse styles. Each edition will feature five photographers with a distinct view - articulated in accompanying interviews as well - so as you transition from one collection of photos to the next you are presented with a different perspective on landscapes. Some are rather traditional but no less breathtaking as Al Brydon illustrates with his somberly saturated and stunningly contrasted Peak District images on film; while others are like non-representational design - see Joe Wright's photos below - at times only discernable as landscapes through their context. All employ a keen eye, enviable technical skill, and an intriguing subject to tell the photographer's story. Take Valda Baily, whose impressionist style using in-camera techniques and deliberate motion creates stunning compositions out of what is otherwise ordinary:
Alas, the traditional representation is not to be discounted; it holds its own against the more experimental techniques and can be just as compelling. Finn Hopson has a way of presenting the familiar with a touch of magic. You'll recognise his landscapes from your drives through the country, but Hopson gives something extra so you stop and take in the scene in a way you may not have otherwise noticed.
The flowing textures of the fields defined by the green of the grass peeking through the snow in this work are particulary lovely:
Rounding out the series is Giles McGarry's striking, high contrast cityscapes of London, focusing on contemporary architectural forms. The bold, angular lines and sleek curves in monochrome provide a refreshing complement to the organic shapes that precede the collection:
The final word comes in the form of an essay by accomplished landscape photographer Paul Kenny, and it's a fitting conclusion to a wildly inspiring adventure through photographs; he sends you off feeling ready to take on the world with your own camera.
As for the presentation of the book itself? It impresses. The textures captured within the photographs are beautifully complemented by the tactile quality of the volume. The soft lamination on the cover is followed by semi-transparent introduction pages, something like onion skin, leading into each photo collection flawlessly printed on substantial stock. Score one for print in the battle vs. online.
It's worth mentioning that I'm a Canadian who has lived in England for eight years, and I've lost count how many times I've heard this: "Canada is a beautiful country - what are you doing here?' My reply is always "Yes it is. But have you seen your country?" I should carry around a copy of Land/Sea to remind them just how lucky they are to live here.
Land/Sea is published three times annually, and I look forward to getting lost in the next one.