Trophy Hunting and Stamp Collecting in Photography

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    When starting out in photography I believed I needed to shoot something big, identifiable, and popular. I would travel vast distances to photograph something that had been shot hundreds of times before because it had a formula I could follow. A prescription for the prefect landscape photograph.

    There has been a shift in my style recently that is subtle yet significant. Since 2017 I have been looking for places outside of the norm. As a result, I have been lucky enough to find and photograph locations outside of what most shoot. This is not to say I have pushed new territory in landscape photography as a genre, but I have done something outside of what the majority of landscape photographers are comfortable doing.

    Going to popular locations and documenting them in a way that is unique is a wonderful thing. Seeing that other wonderful photographers are now copying me is supposed to be the greatest form of compliment, but instead I feel disappointed. I see it on Instagram all the time where people will photograph something the same way it has been done a thousand times before just to get likes.

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    I am guilty of this practice shooting the most popular compositions of popular locations. I have been to Tunnel View at Yosemite during sunset and seen 100+ photographers trying to shoot the same thing. It is fantastic and depressing at the same time. Actually, it is eye opening… I noticed how many have shot these places the same way realizing that I don’t stand out enough. 

    I can shoot at an incredible resolution and process the image to a level beyond most and it is still the same image. My solution? Do something outside of the norm. Stand away from the crowd and find another way of shooting the places people enjoy. Ansel Adams photographed the Oxbow Bend before the trees obscured the view, allowing him to stand out and now I do something similar by standing in places many won’t before the locations are changed forever.

    The moral of this blog post is you can start shooting the iconic locations. It is good to learn the formulas and compositions that work. Know that this doesn’t work forever though, and as you develop into an experienced photographer you need to do something else to stand out. Trophy hunting is for beginners and the experienced photographer needs to understand that you are the exception to the rule breaking the bounds of today’s trends.