Most of the time when we go on photography trips, there is so much planning involved. Planning is overall a good thing, and for a lot of reasons. We need to know what types of photography we’ll be doing, and thus, what kinds of gear we ought to take.
Sometimes, though, too much planning might prove a little bit limiting, or so I’ve found, anyway. You see, the problem is that often before we go on photography trips, we sort of pre-scout new areas.
Myself, I do this by looking at lots of photography in that area. And there are many reasons why I do this. It helps to see art made in the places you will go because it gives you ideas about the types of photography you can do there, too, or what kinds of equipment you might want to bring along. With that, you also get to see what kinds of photography others are making in this place.
If you’re not careful, there is the problem. In examining the types of photography that other people have taken in a particular destination, the temptation exists to avoid creating those kinds of images. After all, we all work hard to create unique things that stand out in a sea of similar images. It’s easy to make a mental list of what not to do when you’re visiting a new place. In cities, you may avoid the downtown areas and the skyscrapers because so many people frequent those for photographs, or you may decide against creating landscapes at a natural park because lots of people create landscapes there.
If we’re not careful, these mental not-to-do lists really can be very limiting. Why should we avoid creating photographs of things that other people have already photographed? For one thing, just about everything has already been photographed. And for another, each photographer is as unique as his or her fingerprints. We all have a different take on the same subjects.
So, once in a while, it may prove productive to sort of go in blind. Visit new destinations without spending hours examining photographs of those places. Trust in nothing more than your own creative vision to guide you to the things you most want to photograph. Don’t worry that it’s already been done before.
Most importantly, look at these new locales with completely fresh eyes. Take the photographs that you feel. Don’t let worries about cliché photographs or images that you’ve seen other photographers produce stop you from creating what you want.
When you boil it down, going into a new location blind is an exercise of trust. You’re trusting completely in your own creative vision to guide you as you explore somewhere new. Perhaps you won’t want to make every photography trip without pre-scouting the area, but once in a while, I think this can be a valuable exercise that helps you to build trust and confidence in your abilities—while allowing you to create in a completely unrestricted, uninfluenced way.