Janet Pritchard, an associate professor of photography at the University of Connecticut, is peeling back the stigmas on landscape photography, showing students there is much more to a photograph which often goes unappreciated.
In a lecture showcasing her methods and momentum on a project she has been working on for the past 9 years, Pritchard explained that much of her work done during her sabbatical trip to Wyoming was deeply steeped in the cultural, historical and natural weight that this beautiful part of North America has to offer a creative eye.
“Most people think that as a landscape photographer that what I do is take ‘pretty pictures’ for calendars. While my pictures are pretty, and I used to make calendars for a select few, there are things that influence my work that go beyond traditional framing and composition of photography,” Pritchard said.
The bulk of Pritchard’s work was done in Yellowstone National Park, exploring how the park was shaped not only by human interaction, but by the wild forces of nature as well. She said she was inspired by the Midwest at a young age, falling in love with the sunsets through the Grand Tetons every evening. All of this can be felt by the observer of Pritchard’s work.
Continuing with her passion of wilderness photography, she pursued a master’s degree where she was taught that her medium of choice was somehow less than art, and began to feel ashamed. “I became embarrassed of my photography so my pretty pictures became secret pictures,” Pritchard said.
Exiting this shell over time, Pritchard takes great care and pleasure with her photography, imparting feelings of grandeur and awe that many parts of the area are known for, without losing an understanding of the difference of looking at a picture of a place and actually being there. Pritchard elaborated, “That’s why people go there, that is why they are special, and why they are put aside, because there is nothing quite like being there.”
“When I look at her work, the way that they are shot really makes me feel like I am standing right there in the exact spot that she took the picture from. It gives a real sense of a natural being and perspective on life in these places,” said Tarik Bush, said second-semester undeclared arts major.
Pritchard placed heavy emphasis on the importance of all the different variables and stories that a picture can have as an intersection of nature and place. She also said that people, and herself as the photographer, were also part of the work–sometimes literally putting her hands in her shots.
“It’s incredible the way she uses her interpretation of the metaphorical, ecological and historical features, the idea of the land, to shape and guide how she captures the physical features in her landscape photography,” said Troy Brice, a sixth-semester photography major.
Pritchard’s work can be found in the Benton Museum of Art in the Faculty Art Exhibition on the second floor, but her ultimate goal is to publish her Midwestern photography in a book for people to have in their homes so they can spend some time with her work. Accompanied by written pieces of short essays and other historical information, Pritchard hopes to bring many of these stories and treasures to anyone who opens her book.
Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.