Steven B. Smith: Your Mountain is Waiting

January 12, 2021

I am very much interested in social landscape photographic work that began with the New Topographic photographers such as Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams, Joe Deal in the 1970s.  They turned a critical eye on the American West, moving away from the romanticized views captured by photographers like Edward Weston and Ansel Adams to a juxtaposition of the natural and cultural landscapes that were reflecting the growth and expansion of the human environment.

Steven B. Smith’s book, Your Mountain is Waiting, is a contemporary exploration on this theme.    Smith’s images capture the stunning irony of communities that have latched on to the landscape as a concept for their architecture and branding while dramatically engineering the environment they inhabit.  

In an interview included in the book, Smith says, “And now if you look throughout the vernacular landscape of Utah, you see symbols and icons of the mountains everywhere….So I started paying attention to the way Utahns worshipped the landscape in their advertising, their street signs, and also in their yards.  And I realized that people were trying to show their love for nature by celebrating it like one of their favorite brands and in that sense everyone is constantly trying to pay homage to the landscape through conspicuous consumption and to elevate their status by association.”