A good photograph is knowing where to stand.

Ansel Adams said as much and I choose to stand above the landscape wherever my kite will let me.

Photography is a search for revelation of the sense of place.

It is not simply about the technical qualities of the photograph it is about a reaction to a unique intersection of place, time and environment. Topography is rarely going to excite emotion in the same way as celebrity, portraiture or reportage but it is both the setting and the summation of our lives on earth.

‘Sense of place’ is the trace of memory and the abstraction that comes with it: these photographs are not technical actions they are expressions of a cognisance of topography.

A photographer recently described my work derogatively as ‘technical’ and saw recording topography as some kind of artless mechanical process. I don’t need to explain what I do to anyone but I think I’ll have a go because kite flyers are seen by many as, at best, eccentric and dismissed accordingly. Having had 2 images ‘Explored’ by flickr I’m beginning to see the KAP viewpoint has an impact.

I photograph carefully selected subjects that show the landscape as I am connected to it-this is not random: I choose these places and these viewpoints: In heritage documentation there is an important process of understanding significance, it is the begining of the selectivity that will define what is recorded and how; it requires concideration of public, private and professional opinion as well as the information needs of the conservation process.

Our landscape is defined by our actions in it- flying a kite is an action with very important connections to landscape: the viewpoint is one thing but the personal connection with environment is unique.KAP images are shaky, rarely full frame and often in need a lot of darkroom attention: the hall-marks of the amateur photographer perhaps, but these images reflect a deep commitment to capture something of the sense of place.

Certainly KAP is cheap compared to using a light aircraft and our small format cameras are always going to be sneered at but no one does this without spending more time than the average photographer in the landscape they are recording.

“Some photographers take reality… and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation.” Ansel Adams.


About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
Gallery | This entry was posted in KAP, Significance and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A good photograph is knowing where to stand.

  1. Jasja says:

    Very well put, exactly captures why I KAP!

    • Thanks for the comment!
      Simon Harbord decribes the unity of wind, time and image as ‘KAP connection’ and I think this is what I’m trying to descibe here.

      On reflection I think connection with the landscape is only part of the KAP experience, connection with a kite is something which cannot be described easily and is, perhaps, a key part of what ties KAP to the landscape so uniquely.

      No pilot other than a balloonist is able to work with an almost fixed aerial viewpoint in the same way as a kite photographer. Doing this is more than expression of an urge to photograph: it’s a realisation that our own significance is small when we see the world at a distance. Getting that distance takes time, courage and commitment.

      KAP’s dependency on the vagaries of weather sensitises us to the environment too!

  2. business says:

    Ansel is the photographer that has inspired me for my scenics and landscapes.

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