Finding Inspiration in the Familiar | Dan Bronson

Have you ever re-visited a favorite negative years after you first printed it, and discovered just how much your perspective of that image has changed with successive printings? 

Landscape photographers share an acute awareness and love of "place." It is where they find inspiration and define their unique vision of the world. They tend to gravitate to places that appeal to their aesthetic tastes. Whether drawn to the ethereal light in the mountains, the enveloping quality of a dense forest or the wide expanse of the sea, your photographs will not only resonate with you but also define your aesthetic sensibilities. Here is one such place that resonates with me, the Boulder Mountains just a few miles northwest of Sun Valley, Idaho. This image was made in 2012, but I return to this area nearly every year and have since I was a child.

 Boulders 2012…Sept. 2012 Rolleiflex 6008i, 50mm Distagon FLE, Efke IR820 Aura

Boulders 2012…Sept. 2012
Rolleiflex 6008i, 50mm Distagon FLE, Efke IR820 Aura

And here is a recent shot of the same scene made in 2017. It is tempting to think that because one has visited and photographed a place there is little reason to return. I would argue the contrary. While I do get my creative juices flowing by exploring new places, many of my favorite images were made only after multiple visits to locations where I experienced a special connection. 

 Boulders 2017…Sept. 2017 Rolleiflex 2.8 FX, Ilford HP-5 plus

Boulders 2017…Sept. 2017
Rolleiflex 2.8 FX, Ilford HP-5 plus

A successful photograph for me will have an unseen quality I define as a "spirit of place." It is something based upon how the location spoke to me while I was there. I try to incorporate this quality in my photographs, but often find my perspective changes with successive visits. Its often productive to re-visit those places looking for new images in the familiar.  I still like to scout unknown locations, but I only spend time with landscapes that will help me grow as a photographer with each visit. These places will speak to me aesthetically as an image maker and help define my personal style, whether I've visited them once or dozens of times. Often a change of season, or seeing with a new film or lens perspective will give a healthy dose of new inspiration.

 Boulders_snow…Dec. 2002 Rolleiflex 6008i, 180mm Tele-Zener, Ilford XP-2 super

Boulders_snow…Dec. 2002
Rolleiflex 6008i, 180mm Tele-Zener, Ilford XP-2 super

 Boulders 2012, 2…Sept. 2012 Rolleiflex 6008i, 50mm Distagon FLE, Efke IR820 Aura

Boulders 2012, 2…Sept. 2012
Rolleiflex 6008i, 50mm Distagon FLE, Efke IR820 Aura

If you choose subjects that resonate deeply with you they will support you as a photographer, because that is where the development in your photographic style will happen. 


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Film photographer Dan Bronson is based in Oregon.  See more of his work on his website.