Over the course of my photographic career, my visual interests have evolved from landscape to travel and from travel to street and creative photography. It has been a voyage of seeing, visual experimentation and self-discovery. In the last year, I noticed that this metamorphosis has accelerated and started me on a new visual journey.
As someone who loves road trips, I started to apply my creative street photography ideas to more rural and isolated places. In the same way as I observed and extracted unexpected elements from busy street scenes, I started to extract elements from less busy rural vistas. As I began this new visual journey, I came across a photographer whom I admire for his subtle yet sophisticated seeing and ability to arrange remote rural scenes into an elegant and cohesive whole.
Today I would like to introduce you to a photographer who, along with Ned Pratt (more about Ned soon), is making a major impact on my new visual discoveries. I would like to showcase the work of Jan Töve. Jan is a Swedish photographer whose photography is “based on landscape in a wider sense, in which the environment and society are commented on or included in one way or another.” His images are “personal interpretations and views of reality” to use a direct quotation from his website.
I view his work as visual prose which may not shout with colour or action but upon careful examination uncovers an exciting new world. The genius of Jan’s photographs involves everyday objects which are usually dismissed as commonplace. Jan’s eye picks out “what others left behind” and turns it into a masterpiece of seeing.
Many of you write to me that you live in remote areas and your street photography opportunities are rare if any. Jan Töve’s work demonstrates that you can discover visual beauty in scenes and places that are often dismissed. Notice the careful arrangement of elements often overlooked or considered banal. A line on the street, a stack of tires or a pile of wood are things we may easily dismiss, but Jan turns these “forgotten scenes” into a visual masterpiece. Each image conjures a visual language which strikes me with such elegance, grace and mystery that it turns the ordinary into quiet grandeur waiting to be discovered.
I urge you to check out two books by Jan Töve: “Silent Landscape” and “Faraway Nearby.” They have quickly become some of my favourite photographic books. They are beautifully printed on high-quality paper and the tonality of Jan’s photographs is something I strive for myself.
Let me leave you with the photographs. Slow down, get comfortable and savour each image. I assure you that you will learn a lot.
Jan Töve will be writing for the ELEMENTS Magazine – a brand new digital publication dedicated to elegant and sophisticated landscape photography. You can find more information at www.elementsphotomag.com
All images courtesy of Jan Töve.
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