Barry Lopez: When I was photographing, I used to ask other landscape photographers to consider that the Sierra Club and Audubon calendars they were shooting for were not all that different from the Playboy calendars these photographers would never associate themselves with. They were consciously trying to create gorgeous, overwhelming images. They created them in response to an ideal about the beauty of landscape that was, qualitatively I think, no different from men choosing certain types of bodies and arranging them in certain kinds of poses to mirror a set of expectations that American men associate with erotic feminine beauty. Some people were outraged by the suggestion, but I would make it anyway. My argument was, “You say that you want to see landscapes preserved, but what you’re photographing are the voluptuous landscapes, so I’m having trouble believing this if there are no photographs of the beauty inherent in an ordinary landscape.” This is one of the ways advertising and public relations have compromised art and writing, you know, in the twentieth century. Advertising has become a force for corruption, in my mind, as far as language and imagery are concerned. As time goes by, it’s an industry I’ve come to have little respect for, although I have known people working in advertising whom I still hold in some regard. I’ve worked in it myself. It’s just become so compromised.
1. Write about an ordinary landscape, some place where we wouldn't think "nature" at first. The scrap of grass behind the Safeway dumpsters. The urban creek full of highway runoff running along the street. Just regular and ordinary. Can you find a place that isn't advertising anything. Is there beauty inherent in it? Is there a larger significance?