In Defence of the Picturesque

This incredibly picturesque scene features ducks swimming on the mirror-like surface of Lake Hayes near Arrowtown on the South Island of New Zealand.

Once upon a time I was a postcard photographer. No, that's over stating things somewhat. In reality part of my business involved the sale of postcards and greeting cards. But I've retreated from that side of the business. Frankly, it wasn't worth it. While the cards sold brilliantly it's a very competitive and low-profit end of the market built, largely, upon relationships. And, when you're on the outer, its incredibly difficult to gain access into retail establishments.

What's more in all the years I sold cards there was only one customer who placed an order online. In all other cases I'd have to travel to each location, dust and personally re-stock the stands. For all the effort there just wasn't enough money in it, but it was a necessary part of my business education.

The Postcard and the Dodo

I haven't followed the postcard market for a number of years, but with the proliferation of digital cameras, mobile phones and associated apps to process and share photos I suspect the postcard business has largely gone the way of the dodo.

Fashions in Photography

Back in the day I studied fine part photography. We're talking mid 80's through to the mid 90's. Post Modernism was rampant and, despite very sympathetic tutors, the flavor of the month was anything but beautiful landscape images. That's not to say that interesting and, on occasions, high quality photographs weren't produced. But it was the time, at least in Australian art institutions, when notions of traditional beauty were under attack.

Anyway, you fight your battles; take on the bullies (student, tutor and bureaucrat alike), particularly when they're picking on your more defenceless peers; and, for the most part, keep your head down and just get on with it. Eventually the wheel turns and you find yourself in the circles where your work is better appreciated. 

Beauty Is Not An Abstract Concept

Beauty is not an abstract concept. To deny it is to deny life itself. And while the above photo is about as cheesy as I'm likely to make, it really was a joyous moment which I wanted to record. The location, Lake Hayes, just out of Arrowtown on the South Island of New Zealand was bathed in soft, winter sunshine. It was a truly idyllic scene and, I kid you not, the ducks headed straight for me once the camera came out. I wonder what's duck for cheese?

My upbringing and travels have alerted me to the hardships suffered by the less fortunate throughout our world. But there's more to the human condition than hardship and despair. Life is a two sided coin and we live, very much, in a world of duality. You can't know joy without first experiencing sadness, happiness without knowing suffering. My view is that to heal the world, you must first heal yourself. And, outside of genuine love, there is no better place to find healing and rejuvenation than in the natural landscape. Maybe I'II see you out there, one day soon.

I hope to return to the south island of New Zealand for two or three weeks later in the year. It's one of my favorite places.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru