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Land Matters – Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity is the latest book form Liz Wells.
It is quite an academic text, but is still a rewarding read. It looks at issues raised from landscape photography over time. It also takes iconic landscape images, and analyses them. Every image is taken for a reason, and this book looks in to the cultural and social world that we live in to determine just why these photos were taken.
The book explains how the landscape images that we take are influenced by how we live in more ways than we think, and how our cultural understanding of something shapes how we will see, or interpret it. It also explains how and why painters idealize images, and how this is then viewed as exactly how life used to be, even though it is distorted.
It is quite a deep read, and you do have to concentrate on it to fully take it in and appreciate it. It is a very interesting read if you are in to this sort of thing though. It is very well written, going into the contextual history surrounding an image, and then going on to explain how this influenced the image itself, and a person's view in it, then and now.
If you are studying history of art, or simply wan to know more about how images come about, then this could be a very interesting book to you. Well set out, it is clear that the author has tried to fit as many images in to the book as possible, and despite it being academic, there are plenty of pictures in each chapter, to help you visualize what you are reading about.
Wells takes into account the views of key photographers and theorists, compares and contrasts, and then comes to her own conclusion about what that particular photograph denotes and connotes. She recognizes that every photo can, and will be, subject to an individual's perspective, but there are certain things within it that shape the way people will interpret them.
Overall, it is a very interesting and intuitive read. If you are looking to delve deep in to the world of photographic meaning and connotation, this is definitely the book for you. It is definitely not light reading, but if you have the time and have a genuine interest in the way landscape photography is portrayed and comes across, you will no doubt enjoy reading this book.