Albert Watson is a Scottish photographer working in the US and is best known for his fashion, celebrity and art photography and has shot over 100 covers for Vogue. His best known photographs include those of Steve Jobs, Kate Moss and Alfred Hitchcock:
My interest is his perspective on creating imagery on the Isle of Skye and how he talks about his photographic practice and methodology. Watson immediately starts to talk about the sense of mystery of Skye. He says that he has planned his visit in October because the weather is “more aggressive”. He refers to the unique light on Skye, caused by unusual humidity patterns, resulting in the light changing rapidly.
He talks about the project on Skye and how he likes to think about words that describe the work from an intellectual point of view – “Lord of the Rings, different surreal landscape, mysticism, romanticism and Victorian mysticism.” He says it is hard to know and understand why Skye is different but it is a strange place. Then his most interesting comment:
“Photographers get sucked into the landscape – you have to make sure you dominate the landscape.”
I am afraid I am one of those photographers that gets overwhelmed by the landscape on Skye. Maybe it is an obsession, but I certainly feel the mysticism and romanticism that Watson does. I will need to think further about whether I allow myself to be dominated by the landscape and also whether or not this is a problem, given the personal and autobiographical nature of my work. My immediate thought is that given my wish to engage with the landscape and be wrapped up in it, that this is part and parcel of my experience.
In terms of his technique it is interesting that Watson uses a long lens for much of his landscape work, which I also do quite regularly.
He talks about his fear of making “picture postcard images” – a concern I share and have spoken about many times. Again, similar to me he enjoys the windy conditions and the challenges that poses for the photographer, but also the opportunities it brings. Here are some of images from his trip to Skye:
Watson, A, What do Artists Do All Day?
Being dominated by a location is something I understand, especially on a first visit. But how to turn that around when you have to work with what is there? I don’t know how.