Ben Pipe: The American West
London-based photographer Ben Pipe is an experienced photographer and traveler. He's shot all over the world, but his most recent series, The American West, explores the fascinating scenery we know right here in the U.S.
Ben's inspiration for shooting the project? The stark contrast between the cool, lush landscape he is accustomed to in the U.K. and the rock formations, warm colors and desert plains in the western U.S. Take a look at some of Ben's photos and read a Q&A about the project below:
What brought you to the western U.S.?
One of my best friends was getting married in Las Vegas, so combining the wedding with some personal exploration of the area was the natural thing to do. The western landscapes of the USA feel like the polar opposite to the U.K. Leaving behind the green patchwork of fields of England for the open expanses of desert out there always makes for an enticing trip. I guess that contrast of environment, but comfort of mutual language, has drawn many landscape photographers over the years and will continue to do so.
Was this commissioned or a personal project? What inspired you to go out and explore the landscape?
This was all a personal project, I’ve done a similar trip a year ago, that time I felt I had to shoot the major sights: Grand Canyon, Bryce, Antelope, etc, and I struggled to do them justice in harsh June/July summer lighting with clear blue skies. I’d seen the photographs of Michael Fatali, Joe Cornish, David Muench and others while I was studying photography in art college and had always wanted to visit these locations.
How was shooting in the western US different than the other landscapes you’ve shot?
As I mentioned I found it a complete contrast to the U.K., it is a much more open and expansive landscape in the western U.S., I really enjoy driving on quiet roads and just being able to pretty much pull in anywhere and take a picture by the roadside. In fact, the road itself often seems to become a part of my photo with my U.S. landscapes, am thinking about making that a project in itself one day.
Were there any challenges?
The beauty of the scenery out there is no secret and many of the locations have already been shot a million times before. As a photographer you need the light to do something very special to create an image that might stand out. I enjoyed the physical challenge of shooting in Death Valley, must of lost a few kilos of sweat just hiking from the car park to the further dunes in the heat, but at least it isn’t full of other tourists or photographers.
What will you be doing with the photos?
For the moment they are just going into my portfolio, it is an area I’d like to return to and keep adding to the collection.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
I had an amazing pulled pork sandwich in Death Valley, still think about that... also when the light broke out after an afternoon of drizzle in Canyonlands, it lasted one and a half minutes but reminded me why I love landscape photography.
To see more of Ben's work, visit benpipe.com.