Please Read First

Where, then, does your vision of the world reside? What part of your art is drawn from history? What part is prophecy? What part is grounded in fact? What part takes wing in fantasy? These are useful questions. Do you really want to leave it to outsiders and non-artists to make up your answers for you? –Ted Orland

If there is one thing you should keep in mind before reading this blog, it is this: you don’t have to agree with me. In fact, I sometimes read my own older posts and realize I no longer agree with them, either. This blog is my scratch pad, it is where I take raw ideas and try to develop them to see where they may lead. The ones that resonate most profoundly sometimes end up in books and published essays.

My hope is that this blog will give readers a better idea of the foundations of my work, why I do what I do, and why I do it in the way that I do. While it is easy to dismiss much landscape photography as aiming at the low common denominator of mass appeal, focusing on aesthetics alone; such is not my goal. I consider my work expressive art, in the sense that I wish for it to convey some of my own stories, sensibilities and reasons for living as I do in one of the most remote corners of the Earth and with little human interaction. It is not a coincidence. My being here, and the images I create, are the result of a rather improbable life journey and many uncommon experiences that shaped me along the way.

I grew up in Israel, at a time when it was mostly empty, before it became the bustling metropolis that it is today. I spent my early years roaming seemingly endless fields and orchards abandoned by former occupants who fled the area when it became a Jewish State. At that time I could find abundant solitude and fascination with the natural treasures around me. On a given walk I often encountered fauna and flora now extinct or almost so.

The wild vanished before my eyes as I grew up, and though I did not know it at the time I was to spend the rest of my life trying to find it again. My mandatory military service coincided with the Palestinian uprising, bringing me face to face with the ravages of war and its unspeakable toll.

When the places I loved in my youth were no longer, and the politics and wars became too painful to bear, I knew I had to leave, and some years later I did. The Internet boom allowed me to immigrate to the US, start my own business and rediscover the wild in the remoteness of a desert region known as the Colorado Plateau, where I now live and work, and where I feel at home more than anywhere else.

Photography to me is an extension of my life-long love of wildness, and a means of engaging with the natural world in intimate and creative ways. I don’t photograph merely to record what I see, but to express something of my relationship with these places and the important role they played in my life for nearly two decades now. These are my sanctuaries, my places to think and feel in the most raw and direct way that I am capable of; and, when needed, to break down and pull myself back together in.

While I consider these images my art, I am also keenly aware that the term holds different meanings for different people. My images are not meant to serve as documentary records and should not be considered as such. To a large degree they are faithful to real views, but just as often they are composed and processed so as to accomplish and emphasize specific emotional connotations that transcend literal appearances. My hope is that they are appreciated as such.

Guy Tal

Addendum:

In response to reader questions I wish to offer this additional information:

  • I consider the specific brands and models of equipment I use to be mostly irrelevant. My choice of gear is based on a desire to limit weight and expenses while maintaining the control, usability and image quality I require to produce my work. These goals can be accomplished in numerous configurations, and using cameras and lenses of various makes;
  • I do not use drones. My work is founded in my love and reverence for wild places and wild life, and I believe that anyone who shares my respect for the life, silence, privacy and the experience of others in wilderness will never consider such intrusions appropriate;
  • I do not submit images to competitions. I believe that competition introduces motivations that are detrimental to the things I hope to accomplish in my work.

Glimmer