Interview Series by Pete the Poet – Q 1

Hey Batt, how did your work with Land & Lens affect your approach to your own photography?

-Pete the Poet

Hi Pete the Poet. Well, in the short term, I could barely take a photo in the year after teaching the Land & Lens students. Can’t say why. I had never formally taught anything before L&L, but found I liked teaching photography more than doing it. I saw all this brilliant beginner work, and when critiquing it—I realized I wasn’t doing a lot of what I had been teaching. Maybe that is why I froze up for a while, after the project ended.

But also, these farmers had a brilliant eye for composition, right in their first weeks out with a camera. I could only guess that being a traditional farmer, you see land and texture and colors in a very different way. Much differently than how we visually frame our worlds, consuming so many media and design images during our days.

So, the only thing I could do after Land & Lens was relearn. Not that I was unhappy with the photography I was doing. But to continue, I had to start fresh.

My first stage back was going into shadows. Taking the camera into obscured places. There was no plan—just needed to do it. Tricky, because low light photography can be a technical challenge. But it was rewarding. I see so much photography now that embraces bling. Edited high saturation. Vivid filters. Reality-bending Photoshop brushes. Heady stuff. Software and phone consumption I think encourages this. That’s fine, it is just where we are at. But after Land & Lens, I had to volume down. Un-bling. Get where I heard bugs. Get low enough to smell the dirt. Smell the street. Maybe when people see my recent photos, they can hear bugs. That would be great.

The next stage, looks like I’ve learned some composition from my students. That inspiration came from their fearlessness. And the open eyes of being in places where paths aren’t beaten. What an opportunity, to have spent that time with them. 

Read more about the Land & Lens students of Sirsi and Chamarajanagar, India.

Nagavini of the Land & Lens project, exploring soil.

Pit Productions and Land and Lens Nagavini Soil
Nagavini Explores the Soil of Chamarajanagar District

Pete the Poet co-edits the online poetry journal