Terra Galleria Photography

New Series: “The Visitor”


While my nature photography celebrates mostly the wildness of the landscape, I have also been examining the national park idea through The Window and The Sign series. They pay homage to the work of the National Park Service via some of their most archetypical infrastructure, which have now spread around the world. In addition to those constructs, the story of the national parks would not be complete without the people who visit them.

Unlike in previous series, the landscape in The Visitor is devoid of man-made structures. The lone human figure, dwarfed by its immensity, appears to have wandered freely to its position, at least immersed in nature, free of the separation and mediation implied in the previous series. The visitor is me, self-photographed with a remote while not looking at the camera, in contrast with modern selfies as well as with the 19th century gentry squinting into the Claude Glasses (explanation) evoked by The Window. That identity, as well as the consistency of the position and clothing, suggests a performance directed towards the viewer, which is a form of intervention in the landscape, just like the national park itself.

The series references aesthetics that have influenced the development of the national parks: Romantic paintings, and early survey photographs, as well as the photographic practice common to National Geographic and other travel publications to have subjects wear red jackets.

Each of those series uses a photographic technique which isn’t obvious. To photograph The Visitor, I used an intervalometer instead of an extended self-timer, as this gives me several chances to get the right pose and position without having to run back and forth to the camera – which is often distant enough that wireless remote releases don’t work reliably.

See entire series


  1. Sal Santamaura says:

    A friend I was hiking with made a negative, unbeknownst to me, while I was sitting on that rock at the right edge of your Chasm Lake image eating lunch. Not quite as elegant as how you framed it, but I was still glad to receive a surprise print in the mail some months later.

    While Ansel strove to eliminate evidence of humans in his work, and I am put off by photographs which document the crowds that plague many National Parks, this series somehow “works” for me. Perhaps it’s because you’re apparently ‘alone in the wild’ enjoying solitude. Or maybe I just read too many National Geographic magazines while during adolescence more than a half century ago. 🙂

  2. Russ Bishop says:

    Great post QT. I think adding a human element to the landscape often helps to give perspective as your images illustrate so well. I often joke that I’ve been doing “selfies” since long before the iPhone or the term existed. And while they certainly need to be made with discretion, I feel they are an important visual tool in helping the public to better understand and connect with the natural world.

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