Here’s something I’ve caught myself doing before — and it’s something I bet you’ve done before, too. Sometimes, when the subject of a popular photographic destination comes up, we find ourselves scoffing. I know I’ve done it. There’s a distinct temptation to turn up my nose at all those popular photography places that everyone goes to.
These aren’t even necessarily the big places, the ones known all over the world, like Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon. It even happens with local photography hotspots. Places in our communities, all of those overlooks, nature preserves, parks, and other nearby attractions — all those spots that local photographers talk about frequenting because they offer the best vantages around or plenty of unusual subject material. Every city, every town, every little geographic region has places like this. And it’s so easy to discount these places because we’re often inclined to think that we don’t want to be going to the same spots — and thus creating the same photographs — as everyone else.
After all, the goal of photography is to create something unique, right?
My thought on this is, no matter where we go and what we choose to photograph, how can we do anything other than creating something unique? Each of us as photographers has our own individualized photographic fingerprint. Every one of us has a style that we apply to our images. Perhaps we use light differently, or maybe we prefer certain tones and colors to be present in images. We may take photographs from unique angles and some of us have individualized post-processing techniques that differ from those others prefer.
So, as long as we’re being individualistic, it really doesn’t matter if we go to these well-traveled photographic destinations. As long as we’re relying on our own unique styles, it is impossible for us to take the same photographs as everyone else.
Style really is like a fingerprint. You’ve seen press photographers, sports photographers or wildlife photographers all standing in a group to take a photograph of the same person or bird. None of them are creating the same photograph because surely, each is taking a somewhat different approach to the image as their own style dictates. The same is true for just about any subject material. Twenty photographers could stand in a row to photograph the exact same subject, but no two of those images will be exactly alike, not with every photographer putting his or her own unique twist on it. Style is what makes images unique, not going places no one else has been. Sure, those exotic destinations are nice. But for most of us, the opportunities to visit those types of places are few and far between. So I say go to those well-traveled photographic destinations. Take all the photographs you want to take at these places, and don’t worry about whether it’s already been done. The simple truth is, it hasn’t been done. Not by you.