When I saw last summer that Shawn Bush had been selected as the first place winner of the 2017 Lenscratch Student Prize, I scrolled through just a few of the images featured before I agreed that his work is indeed exceptional. So much of the photography I look at explores the essence of the West today, but these images (individually and as a whole) have a feel I haven’t seen before. My experience of the western United States is that the light is always so incredibly high contrast, but the light in Shawn’s photos is so lovely. It adds a dreamlike quality to the pictures, or a feeling that we’re looking at a movie set. If you’re interested in how humans today have idealized the landscape, the American West is a great subject to explore. I love how these pictures seem at the same time romanticized and real, washing the grit in a hazy light and subtle colors while highlighting the abruptness of how humans have made their mark on nature.

A Golden State is currently being published as a book, available for pre-order at skylarkeditions.org.

From the artist’s statement: The Western landscape has captivated the hearts of Americans and others over time. The expansive topography that dominates the territory encapsulates the allure that defines core American ideologies. Cinema, habitual media and commercial industries use the seduction of the Western landscape to sell, define and project a merit of social status. In the name of progress, the topography is constantly changing and shedding its layers to suit the conditional needs of humanity. Employing some of the tactics of cinema that have been used to describe the landscape, “A Golden State” questions the relationship of prescriptive identity to place.

Visit artist's site: sheenographs.com