“Spending the last couple of years working closer to home, I have come to appreciate and notice my local area in new ways”

Art of Seeing by Benedict Brain
Ben is using the postcard aesthetic to celebrate the quietly spoken topographies of everyday landscapes. Fujifilm GFX 50R with Fujifilm GF45mm F2.8 R WR lens. 1/125 sec at f/8, ISO 100 (Image credit: Benedict Brain)
About Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain with camera

(Image credit: Marcus Hawkins)

Benedict Brain is a UK-based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine, and the author of You Will be Able to Take Great Photos by The End of This Book.

I appreciate and love the awesomeness of a classic landscape at the magic hour. Just being there in it raises my spirits and nourishes my soul. However, I’m left in the creative doldrums when presented with classic Arcadian vistas. I simply don’t have a desire to capture the ‘picturesque’ view with any great enthusiasm. 

If I’m honest, I find a lot of the images I see of these views quite one-dimensional. Photographically, I’m happier on the peripheries of urban, rural and wild landscapes – areas where humanity and the environment are intertwined.  

While the photos might be more ‘boring,’ this interests me, and I’m consistently drawn to making images in these places. I take some inspiration from the New Topographics, a group of photographers working in the 1970s. New Topographic photographers such as Robert Adams (no relation to Ansel) and Lewis Baltz evolved a deadpan aesthetic and focused their lenses on more banal aspects of the landscape. They too were concerned with our relationship with the environment and photographed suburban development in the USA, among other things. 

I have also been researching the history of postcards for my book and became very interested in the work of John Hinde. You’ll likely have seen a John Hinde postcard; his output of nostalgic views was prolific. The Phaidon book series ‘Boring Postcards’, which showcases some truly boring yet sublime postcards, was inspiring, too. 

I made my own postcard, which you can see here. It’s a mix of influences from the New Topographics to the John Hinde postcards. I’ve presented them in a postcard format as a playful way to celebrate and observe these micro landscapes, topographies we encounter in our everyday lives and views that are often ignored. Spending the last couple of years working closer to home, I have come to appreciate and notice my local area in new ways. I think I might start a collection. 

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Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He graduated with a degree in photography from the Derby School of Art in 1991 (now University of Derby), where he was tutored and inspired by photographers John Blakemore and Olivier Richon, amongst others. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and also sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel.

Until July 2018 Benedict was editor of Britain’s best-selling consumer photography magazine, Digital Camera Magazine. As a journalist he met and interviewed some of the world’s greatest photographers and produced articles on a wide range of photography related topics, presented technique videos, wrote in-depth features, curated and edited best-in-class content for a range of titles including; Amateur Photographer, PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Professional Photography and Practical Photoshop. He currently writes a regular column, The Art of Seeing, for Digital Camera magazine.