Truly Seeing a Landscape
I have always been drawn to nature.
Even though I grew up in a city, I remember being young and always trying to surround myself with nature, to be in close contact with her.
My daily escapism as a kid led me into fields and to the top of hills in our neighborhood, these spaces serving as a place where I could fall into a sort of meditation. I was drawn to these places where I could be by myself and stay there in silent reflection for as long as I wished.
It was in these moments that I would truly try to grasp everything which was located outside of me. Observing the formations on the horizon, the strokes of clouds in the sky, and all the colors I was able to perceive. I believe my ability "to see" has always been my strongest sense.
I could have been wrong about my impressions of others during this same time frame, but I often found myself wondering why I constantly saw so many sad faces. So many people around me were wandering through our world without enthusiasm, while all this magic and beauty surrounded us with such splendor. Did everyone else forget how to see?
I did not want to be blind.
But the older I got, the more I drifted away from my little daily escapes. I believe, I stopped practicing the art of "seeing," and so my perceptions started to darken. I couldn't see things the way I was able to as a child, and I couldn't truly appreciate what was around me like I once had with such vigor.
It wasn't until I decided I needed to leave my country and travel out into the wide-open world to see the beauty I knew existed once again that I finally felt like myself again.
Once I left home, I was suddenly exposed to a huge amount of natural impressions, each day filled with an uncountable number of experiences, daily reminders waking me up and telling me . . . something is different. This something was the unknown, and Mother Earth was begging me to reawaken so I could interact with nature like I once had. Once I accepted these feelings, I decided I never wanted these moments to fade away. So I began taking photos of whatever scene I came upon that made me feel like I was building a connection between myself as an observer and the object or subject outside of myself. A bridge between my perceptions and a moment outside of it entirely.
Photography taught me how to interact again with the world, the Earth that surrounded me in all directions. To feel I am not alone, but in contact with nature itself, I give my attention to the elements wholeheartedly, and allow it to seep deeply into my consciousness.
When I am out in the mountains, by the sea, or somewhere else in nature, photography teaches me to see. To see the world in harmonic formations, to take the time to identify the already created compositions so magnificently sculpted by nature.
On another hand, photography allows me to build up a strong interaction between my experiences and how I remember them afterwards. Thus, the experienced moments of my present never fall into a completely passive state, because I've found with photography it is possible to push oneself back into a specific moment and remind oneself of a state which is no longer present, where memories can resonate and linger forever more.
For this reason, editing snapshots plays a crucial role in my photography. Since I have the ability to change the color palette to create a certain mood, I am able to try and present the feeling I experienced while at each location. In this way I can aim to make this feeling understandable for the viewer, who might have had perceived the place in a completely different manner otherwise. During editing, I'm reminded of how I felt in each moment I've photographed, and I am challenged in trying to present a moment as closes to how I experienced it in the flesh.
I believe the photo is not an attempt to imprint some kind of reality, but is rather a representation of my impressions and feelings I had when I pushed the camera's button.
Not long ago, I believed I could only get inspiration from beautiful landscapes, which seemed a bit surreal to me, as they were not always the most accessible. Nevertheless, they had always been the places which caused my senses to awaken, to light up my eyes and make me see the particularity of the world.
Now, I feel that each place in the world can work as an inspiration, because each place across our globe is a place which holds its own personal peculiarity, its own combination of qualities no other spot can quite duplicate.
Photography forces me to stay curious wherever I am. It's the tool which I use to interact intensely with my surroundings, so that I can continuously be reminded of the magic which was, and still is, all around us.
Kat Siurek is a self-taught photographer and artist from Germany with Polish roots. She is the co-founder of Pollux, a collective of photographers capturing art performances. Kat currently lives in Lofoten, Norway.