‘The unexpected, Arizona'. A boulder and unusually coloured mud create interesting shapes without a sense of scale.
His photography might be world class, but Brent Clark had never tried his luck in an international competition – until he discovered the 2021 Natural Landscape Photography Awards (NLPA).
The photographer, who has been documenting the natural world since 2012, achieved the contest’s top award with his first submission. Clark’s portfolio was selected from 10,700 photographs submitted by 1,179 photographers from 55 countries.
“Last year’s NLPA was the first photography competition I had ever entered, because most competitions seem to reward a style of image I prefer not to create and a mindset I do not have,” says Clark, who is based in Wisconsin, USA.
This second edition of the NLPA was launched in 2021 to promote “the best landscape photography by digital and film photographers who value realism and authenticity in their work”. Its organisers explain the ethos behind the event: “The competition established a set of important rules to avoid the types of deceptive digital editing techniques that have become commonplace in landscape photography.”
Clark says such a philosophy chimes with his own. The photographer, who is inspired by moments of wonder in everyday natural events, tends to focus on his own homeland – the Upper Midwest – as well as protected public lands around the United States.
“What caught my attention with the NLPA was its esteemed judges and core values, rather than the prizes and recognition that come with winning,” explains Clark. “I felt like entering was to cast a vote for what I wanted to see more of in the landscape photography community – natural and inspirational imagery, grounded in reality.”
He adds: “More than ever, we need everyone to have a positive and harmonious relationship with nature. Photography has the power to inspire people to get out and experience nature, whether they are creators or consumers of images. The more often people experience nature in a responsible and reverent way, the deeper their relationship with it will be. The deeper their relationship with nature, the more they will fight to preserve and restore it, and the better off the entire planet will be.”
Here, you can enjoy Clark’s award-winning NLPA submission.
All images by Brent Clark
‘Amor fati, California'. Light breaks through an out-of-frame mountain pass to illuminate one shapely section of sand dunes.
‘Invasion of privacy, Arizona'. A lone bush’s solitude is interrupted by a photographer visiting remote badlands.
‘Thanksgiving, Utah'. Soft golden light illuminates a wonderful display of colour in a riparian and remote desert canyon.
‘Sacred stillness, California'. Blue and yellow colored walls contrast in a remote and quiet desert canyon.
‘Shadow self, Utah'. A young cottonwood tree with a cheerful exterior casts a long shadow against a canyon wall.