What can we infer from the landscape about the choices that we as humans and citizens have made over the last five decades? What have we built, how are we living and working? What have we lost and what have we left behind? Should we lament, or should we celebrate? Where should we go from here?
These are the questions in many of our minds, I think. This work that I’d like to describe as “Man’s landscapes, here and now”, started for me in 2019 as a look at the quirky aspects of local culture and nature in Southwest Louisiana under the header, “Louisiana roadside”. The simultaneous pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, Hurricane Laura in August 2020, and growing social divisions have accelerated things and made humankind’s impact more readily visible upon the environment and the landscape. And frankly, retiring from the workforce in 2016 made me more open to viewing and capturing some of these things, and I have found my photographic interest growing toward something beyond “quirky”.
I made many of the pictures in this project with a sort of new “new topographics” view, with inspiration from the photos by Robert Adams especially, and with the encouragement of my photo professor and mentor, Rosemary Jesionowski at McNeese State University. I’ll admit that some of the images simply were born out of the question, “what has society done since 1975?” These images were shot with a digital camera, but in paying homage to those original New Topographics photographers who did shoot in black & white, I processed them as monochrome images. Though I may stray from my own guidelines sometimes, I aim for these images to be not disrespectful to any people, for them to honor the landscape, and above all, to inform the viewer.