A Credo For Mountain Photographers

May 7th, 2010 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

Melting Snow Pattern, Kings Canyon National Park, Sierra Nevada, California, 1951 By Philip Hyde. This photograph shows the influence of Cedric Wright, at least Cedric Wright made several photographs of the groves and pock marks that form in deep melting snow as much as a decade before this photograph.

Master landscape photographer Cedric Wright wrote poetry, prose and illustrated early Sierra Club books with his fine art photography. In Galen Rowell’s renowned 1986 Sierra Club book, Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape, Galen Rowell quoted Cedric Wright’s 1941 “A Credo for Mountain Photographers” from the Sierra Club Boook Words of the Earth by Cedric Wright with a preface by Ansel Adams, edited by Nancy Newhall:

A Credo For Mountain Photographers

The mountain photographer is interpreting the face of nature–that mysterious infinity, eternally a refuge, a reservoir, an amplifier of spirit; a mother of dreams; a positive though elusive voice in whose depth lies its subtlety. They will interpret best who are never so content as when under the influence of situations where silence is rich in the mute assurance and beauty of mountain surroundings. The quality of emotional knowing has a finer integration with our spirit than anything that comes from barren intellectual processes. This point of view only accumulates slowly, out of long experience and contact with wordless influences. Under the spell of solitude and of natural beauty the root system of this kind of awareness establishes itself. Great art is usually created under some such saturation of awareness. The work is then permeated with an inner perception of beauty and an inner personal philosophy. The hope for our photography is that it shall retain these high lights of more than beauty, that through it symbols shall be preserved of response to our mountains, keeping them to a flow, a golden thread, in our experience.

Words of the Earth by Cedric Wright was part of the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series. Cedric Wright and Philip Hyde both contributed a photograph to the collection of now famous photographers who joined Ansel Adams in illustrating the book This Is the American Earth written by Nancy Newhall. This Is The American Earth kicked off the Exhibit Format Series, a mastermind creation by David Brower, Nancy Newhall and Ansel Adams. This Is The American Earth was made into an exhibition and toured nationally and even in Europe. Cedric Wright’s book, Words of the Earth was also one of the early books in the series.

This Is The American Earth and Words of the Earth contained all black and white photographs. Philip Hyde’s first several books in the series were a mixture of black and white photographs and color photographs. Philip Hyde eventually had more photographs in more of the books in the series than any of the other photographers. Eliot Porter’s book In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World with quotes by Henry David Thoreau was the first all-color volume and sold more copies than all of the other Exhibit Format Series Books, including This Is The American Earth. From then on the books in the series were all in color.

Be Sociable, Share!
Advertisement

Leave a Reply