A Love of American Landscape

When I was a child I lived in communist Poland. I knew America—which is how we usually referred to USA at the time—as that land where everything was possible, people were free, and the landscape was filled with miraculous shapes and vistas. Later, when I read the books and when I browsed National Geographics at the library of the US Consulate in Kraków, I felt I was right, and I aspired to see it with my own eyes, some day. When I was fifteen, I saw the Challenger disaster on TV, and I was shocked by it. I hung a poster of its crew, which I have also managed to get from the Consulate, over my desk, to remind me of the hopes and the dreams that some people were prepared to fulfil by going to such extremes. That inspiration imbued me with a hopeful feeling towards that land and its people, that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Even now, with questionable political moves, and dubious judgements in international affairs of the US sometimes saddening my previously idealistic perceptions, I believe that there is something powerful and unique in that land that has the energy to keep inspiring people to reach for their stars. That is precisely how I feel about the landscape of the American deserts and its mountains. Often, when I stand on a precipice of a canyon, as I cast my eye to that seemingly never-ending horizon, I feel hope and inspiration in a moment of a perfect clarity. In that instant, it becomes easy for me to see how daily troubles we face are not always so important in comparison to the joy brought by the amazing beauty and the perfection of what surrounds us, and what connects us to everything else on this planet.

That is what I photograph. My pictures are not sad or sentimental, they do not show pain, tragedy, or suffering—not because that would be a bad photographic subject: just look at the wonderful works of Robert Capa. I am inspired by the idealism of the land and of its potential, and I feel a need to capture, to express, and to share it. Sometimes, it is a bit more pictorial, like in the photograph of the Grand Canyon moments after a summer storm has passed, otherwise, it is in the abstractions, like those of Canyon X, created entirely by nature yet worthy of a most accomplished sculptor. I wonder if the strength of my feelings for that landscape might prevent me from feeling the same elation anywhere else. Am I destined to photograph no other place? Not a bad destiny, on the other hand…

Perhaps, you could see not just the inner beauty, but also the hope, maybe some child-like naiveté, and the humbling honesty in the American landscape, which I tried to share with you. May it, too, uplift your soul.

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