As I prepare the issue #2 of The Visual Landscape, here is a flashback to the main feature of the last edition!

Interview with Peter Lik - On appreciation of landscape photography and its artistic value


World renowned Australian-born photographer Peter Lik made history in December when he sold one of his works for an impressive $6.5 million. This highest achievement in the photography art world should be welcomed and celebrated. But what makes this form of art unique?

The amount of time and effort it can take for a photographer to bring a hidden landscape to the eyes of the public often remains invisible to the audience. Based on personal experience, this can include months of planning and preparations; days and weeks of travel by foot or sundry means; extreme weather and environment conditions; cultural, political and geographical borders. In addition, for photographers whose art has yet to make its way to fine art auction houses, there is the endless game of juggling time between photography projects, day jobs and family commitments. Despite all these efforts and challenges, there are never any guarantees of catching that perfect shot.

A very obvious requirement of landscape photography is that one actually has to be on location - there is just no way around that. In fact location and timing are two distinct elements that make landscape photography artistic and what largely distinguishes it from most other forms of artwork. One can have their own studio, their own gallery, high-end photography equipment, a very innovative technique, or even have their own well-established publishing house (in the case of Peter Lik). But without being on location, there would be no landscape. Without Arizona's Antelope Canyon there would have been no "Phantom", an image that has pushed the the limits of artistry and propelled landscape photography to new heights.

So I decided to ask Peter Lik himself about his most prized image and he has kindly responded:

Ivan Petrov: Peter, first of all, congratulations on this unbelievable achievement! Your work and the level of prominence you have achieved is very inspiring to photographers like myself.

Peter Lik: Thanks mate. I have received an overwhelming amount of compliments since the recent press and I truly value every single one. I'm glad my work inspires you - us photographers need to always encourage and challenge each other.

IP: The location of your photograph is well known around the world. Antelope Canyon is a well-known tourist attraction and a great photography location. Would you agree that location and timing are two key elements of artistic landscape photography?

PL: Yes, I would absolutely agree that location and timing are key elements. In fact, I wrote the following as part of a note after taking the shot: "The biggest lesson I have learned in photography is that timing is everything. No matter how perfect your technique and equipment, if you aren't in the right place at the right time you simply won't get the shot."


IP: What were your biggest challenges in making "Phantom?"

PL: The photograph wouldn't be what it is without making sure I was ready when light beamed down in front of me at just the right moment. So, I guess timing was my biggest challenge.

IP: Was there anything else different or distinct about the process of making this definitive work of art?

PL: Certainly how the ghostlike figure was created. It was one in a million. Not knowing what was about to happen - right before I pressed the shutter, my Navajo guide threw a handful of dust into the overhead shaft. The end result was so unique I don't think it could ever be replicated. I didn't even realize what I had captured until weeks later. That's what I love about photography - you never know what you're going to get. That's what keeps me going.

IP: Having the means and ability to travel wherever you want - something that is a challenge for young aspiring photographers - how do you make a choice of where to pursue your next "Phantom?"

PL: I can only tell you what it was like for me. When I was young, I had always dreamed of capturing the American landscape. From everything I had seen in pictures and film, there was no doubt I had to capture the diverse, raw beauty of it all. I worked hard everyday for ten years just to save enough money to get to the States. But I didn't stop there. I continued to work everyday at my craft - and through that never-ending dedication, I was able to catch a few beauties along the way. I believe the harder you work, the luckier you'll get.


IP: What would be one piece of advice you would offer to early-career landscape photographers?


PL: It wasn't always like it is now. It was tough when I started out. Some nights it was a choice between a hot dog and film processing or a proper meal. There was no GPS, no YouTube, no Internet - nothing was digital and there was no instant gratification. I had to use old-fashioned paper road maps, read books and use my instinct. I guess you really had to know what you were doing. Take advantage of all the tools that are out there now, they will help you tremendously. However, without passion it all means nothing. That is number one. Find your passion and your own style - and try to have a little fun along the way.

IP: Thank you for your time and good luck with your projects!

On one hand, Peter Lik has once again reconfirmed his definitive status as art master. On the other hand, this achievement will no doubt contribute to elevating photography in general, and landscape photography in particular, as an art form that is at times underrepresented and underrated.

Yesterday, I ventured out to walk a relatively short 17-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail that runs through Maryland. Under pouring rain my friend Jim and I hit the trail as part of a training hike with the Mountain Club of Maryland. The rain quickly subsided to reveal a captivating and slightly eerie forest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Appalachian Trail stretches for 2,189 miles from the state of Georgia in the south to Maine's Mount Katahdin in the north. As we walked southward that day, miles and miles down this trail in Tennessee two brave Canadians - Anda and Arlene - were walking towards us. Exactly one moth ago, they began their attempt to through-hike the entire trail in six months. As Anda celebrated her birthday on April 8, they passed their 300-mile mark and now have just 1,889 miles left to go. I look forward to covering the story of their adventure and the story of the Appalachian Trail over the coming months.


Today's interconnected world of instant communication and sharing offers unprecedented potential for collaboration between artists on a truly global scale. As a result of one Instagram post, I was invited by an international street artist Escif of Valencia, Spain to contribute to his upcoming book that will present a retrospective of the artist's work to date. I feel very excited to have the opportunity to contribute to another artist's work halfway across the world – all as a result of documenting one of Escif's colourful murals in Baltimore's Station North Arts and Entertainment District. With Baltimore's unprecedentedly cold winter as the stage setting, the cheerful mural stood out even more against the backdrop of Charm City. The photograph is also part of my recent "Baltimore Undercover" photo series documenting the first snowfall in Charles Village.


A series of similar colourful murals has enlivened many public spaces, stimulated community revitalization and national dialogue, and attracted new visitors and investors to Station North. These mural sites were selected to challenge artists to tell the story of legacy and revitalization in this central Baltimore neighborhood, which is experiencing renewed vibrancy through the arts. Both editions of the Open Walls Baltimore (OWB) project are now available for your viewing pleasure through Google Cultural Institute: OWB 1 + OWB 2. Or, better yet, come to Baltimore and see it for yourself! To see more of Escif's work, you can visit his website or get a copy of his new book.

At the beginning of January I had an unexpected opportunity to witness the first snowfall of the season in Baltimore. The city was being transformed in front of my eyes into a winter wonderland. Most of the day was spent exploring the streets and creeks of Baltimore's Charles Village and the nearby neighbourhoods. See the full photo essay through Baltimore's What Weekly Magazine that ran the feature the next morning (with introduction by Shannon Light Hadley):


You can view additional photographs of the first snowfall in my Baltimore gallery.


I am pleased to announce my partnership with the American Conservation Film Festival (ACFF) to provide coverage of their 2015 Best of Fest event in Frederick, Maryland
on February 28, 2015:


The ACFF presents thought-provoking films that explore the connection between people and the environment. It is an annual event held in the vibrant arts community of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The ACFF features films from a diverse group of conservation filmmakers from around the world.


The ACFF chooses films that illuminate:

- human interactions with wildlife and wild places;

- issues driven by natural resource conservation;

- humans as part of the environment and/or living in a continuum of cultural tradition;

- conservation of cultures, communities, and or lifestyles in conjunction with changes in the natural world; and

- how youth encounter and understand the natural world.


On February 28, join us in Frederick for live music, guest speakers, and three fine films from the 2014 edition fo the festival. Or submit your own film for ACFF 2015 until April 15!



Graphic courtesy of the American Conservation Film Festival.

I am very proud to be supporting worldwide alpine pursuits and adventures through the American Alpine Club's Annual Benefit Dinner and silent auction alongside such prominent mountain photographers as Brad Washburn, Bill Thompson and Jimmy Chin! This year's keynote speaker is Reinhold Messner. Up for grabs is one of my framed prints of Baffin Island's Mount Thor - also currently on display at my ongoing exhibition at the Ottawa's Civic Hospital.


Beginning with a prolific climbing career in the Alps, then pioneering the highest peaks in the world “by fair means” (i.e. without oxygen and often solo), Reinhold Messner is the most famous—and regarded as the most accomplished—high-altitude climber ever to live. Messner will be joined by climbing legends Ueli Steck, Ed Viesturs, and Chris Bonington who will be participating in panel discussions throughout the day.


The festivities are open to the public and kick off on Friday, January 30 with the Annual Membership Meeting and Climbers’ Gathering at the flagship Brooklyn Boulders facility. The Benefit Dinner and Silent Auction will be taking place at 583 Park Avenue in New York City on January 31st, 2015. Online bids are accepted. 

All proceeds benefit American Alpine Club's programs including youth climbing grants, conservation projects, and the launch of a new national climbing education initiative.


Mount Thor Lot:


Other Lots:


Graphic courtesy of the American Alpine Club.

Introducing the inaugural issue of my new monthly narrative on creative photography!


Interested in signing up to receive future issues of "The Visual Landscape"?  Have your own creative ideas about contributing to this electronic publication? Please contact me at 


My latest photography exhibition is now open at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa! Come and see lots of new photographs from my 2014 travels in the US and the Caribbean and many others that I am exhibiting for the first time. Don't miss your chance to get these first edition prints!


Stop by anytime during the month of January. Exhibition is located in the 1st floor foyer of the hospital, just to the left of the main entrance. All framed photographs are available for purchase weekdays from 10am to 8pm and on weekends from noon to 4pm. Civic Hospital is at 1053 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario. Unframed photographs are always available through this website.