Photography and fieldwork

By Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy
Geographer and CNRS Research fellow

© Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy – All Rights Reserved

“The most interesting part of the natural world are the edges, places where ocean meets land, meadow meets forest, timberline touches the heights. These geographical edges excite scientists in much the same way that edges of light fascinate me”.

Galen Rowell

These words from the renowned American landscape photographer Galen Rowell (1940-2002) can be said to be as geographic as photographic. If nothing else, they hint at the fact that photography and geography have a lot in common in terms of interests (world, space, people, events), motivation (discover, explore, learn, understand / explain, testify) and practice (presence in the field / on the ground, proximity to actors and events, observation, representation). Of course, what geographers and photographers tend to share the most is their interest for landscapes and spaces (including cityscapes) and their derived urge to represent and record them, as is implied in the suffix of both photography and geography (geography is the only social science that is also a natural science and is not built with the suffix –logy).

Looking and seeing is what photographers and geographers have in common and this is where geographers can benefit from photographers, and vice-versa. Because what photographers and geographers have in common is their observation skills and a trained eye. The eye of the photographer can obviously greatly benefit from the eye of the geographer and vice-versa.

Below is the part of my photographic work that is directly related to my research in geography.

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© 2019 Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy – All Rights Reserved