There are some photos that I look upon and almost instantly feel a connection. This is a sign of a good photo and a good photographer, of course. But as a writer and reviewer of said works, it always poses a challenge. It’s can be difficult to pinpoint why, exactly, I may feel such a connection to a photo. Trying to put that into words can be very trying. That happened recently with a photo by Mark Boyle, a photo titled Brantwood Jetty II. Then I realized that I was thinking too technical. I was falling into the trap of rules that I campaign against so regularly. When in the end, it’s an emotional connection that I have, one that is deeply rooted in who I am as much as who Mark Boyle is.
When I look upon Brantwood Jetty II, I am reminded by cool summer mornings up at the lake. When I was younger, my family didn’t have a vacation home or a favorite vacation spot, but somehow this reminds me of every summer I had. We went to Lake Placid one year, we went to Lake Onterio another. We visited Chincoteague, Cape May, Cape Cod, The Finger Lakes and so on. Mark’s shot could have been from any of those trips; and all of them. My connection is that I am reminded of those younger years of my life, when vacation was truly about getting away. As kids, my brother and I didn’t have the adult worries that we have now, and it seemed much easier to fall into the vacation spirit. I miss those days. That is my connection to the photograph, which I’m sure is very different than your own. That is the beauty of photography, the story that ends up getting told is sometimes not that of the photographer; it’s the viewer’s story that is told. I’m sure Mark had a different story to tell. But no matter, a connection has been made and I admire the photograph all the same.
Of course once I realized how I was connected, I also realized there are a few elements that helped Brantwood Jetty II establish such an emotional connection. The photo as a whole seems somewhat surreal. The long exposure has stretched the clouds so that they aren’t clearly defined. It has turned the choppy waters to a misty, ethereal substance. Yet the grain of the wood is so crisp and the hills beyond the lake are like a hard separation of water and sky. The result is this spectral photograph that seems to be plucked out of someone’s memory. Perhaps my mind believes this to be true and has responded by filling in its own story.
Well played, Mark.
Mark Boyle is a fantastic landscape photographer with an inspiring portfolio. You can of course find his work on Flickr, but you can also find his work on Redbubble as well as on his 500px page. So you have a choice of ways to stalk his work. That’s fortunate, because he has created so many inspiring photographs that you wouldn’t want to miss any of his new works. Enjoy your new inspiration in the form of Mark Boyle.