Yosemite Valley from Inspiration Point
Joel Snyder explains that Watkins’s Yosemite photographs conformed to preexisting conventions for representing landscape:
“By the time Watkins made his first views of Yosemite in 1861, eastern American and European travelers had already written about its ‘picturesque pleasures’ and its combination of gardenlike grace with breathtaking grandeur. Watkins’s photographs address these expectations by formulating the valley in terms that are familiar and that emphasize its accessibility and, at the same time, its grandeur.”
Joel Snyder, “Territorial Photography,” in W.J.T. Mitchell, ed., Landscape and Power (Chicago, IL and London: University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 185.