Lizzie is a member of the judging panel for the Landscape Photographer of the Year. Her “Mood versus Composition” talk explored how compositional choices, as much as the prevailing conditions, can affect the resulting mood of our landscape photography. She explained that she meant “mood” in the sense of a temporary state of mind or feeling. She recognised that this was naturally subjective. But she wanted to help us create compositions to convey some mood or emotion and therefore engage the viewer.
Lizzie’s presentation was structured around a series of quotes offering helpful advice introducing each part of the talk. These included:
“People and things have edges, but where does a landscape stop?” – Myfanwy Pavelic (Canadian artist)
“The composition happens as the work progresses. Often the messy background makes it easy to disperse shapes as needed. I’d rather it took over me than I took over it.” – Myfanwy Pavelic
“I usually have an immediate recognition of the potential image, and I have found that too much concern about matters such as conventional composition may take the edge off the first inclusive reaction.” – Ansel Adams (American photographer)
“Developing a composition is a continuous flow of ideas, where the artist combines, adds, reduces, adapts and discards the various elements in an unending discovery of new possibilities.” – Alessandra Bitelli (Canadian artist)
“A precision of composition and figuration is what I’m working toward. I’ve always felt viewers should have an experience without having to ask what the hell it was about.” – Eric Fischl (American painter)
Curiosity is the tool that shapes the world of all artists, just as much as any brush or chisel.”
Lizzie illustrated her points with lots of her own images taken in (among other places) the isles of Harris and Lewis, Sutherland, Snowdonia, the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, Greece, Spain, Iceland, India, and Tenerife.
Through her pictures Lizzie demonstrated how – within any scene – different compositional decisions create different pictures. It is usually necessary to work within multiple constraints, such as where the camera can be positioned and how the features of the landscape are naturally arranged. Accordingly, these choices are generally about getting the best compromise to ensure the image conveys the required feeling or emotion.
Lizzie believes that one of the joys of photography is that it forces you to open your eyes, to develop your vision and to keep searching for ways to express that vision. She is intent on revealing the hidden beauty and intrigue that surrounds us and keen to explore more abstract and unusual interpretations of the places she visits. She has a keen eye for details and a distinctively artistic style of landscape photography. Her images are often softly lit and pastel coloured with an intimate feel. “I don’t often photograph in contrast conditions.”
This was a most enjoyable and inspiring evening. Lizzie is clearly passionate about her photography and, whatever one’s own style, there was much to learn and plenty to admire here.