In today’s crowded space of landscape photography there is a weird converging of styles. It almost feels as though everyone is trying to do the same thing over and over again for all the wrong reasons. It is a sickening thing to see talented photographers creating art that lacks any defining qualities that separates it from other photographers. What happened to everyone’s unique voices in this art? Has it always been this way?
Everything looks the same
When you look at landscape photography today there is a noticeable trend. Everyone’s work looks very similar at the top. The most popular images out there could have been shot by just about anyone, and many of the top photographers have bodies of work that are indistinguishable from one another. There are likely a number of factors at play here like the accessibility of the art form, affordability of travel, and social aspects of sharing ‘good’ work. It is all one big converging force with a consistent trend that keeps repeating.
Does the artist see themselves in the art?
As all the landscape art starts to look the same you have to ask if that even makes sense from an artistic standpoint. When creating art you should be able to see yourself in the images. There should be something unique about the work that someone can notice and see throughout. If everything looks the same, then is everyone that is ‘good’ the same?
I don’t think so, and there is more likely a lacking of real connection to the landscapes. It is more of a game to win at that point. Going out and competing to just get the best color in the sky over a popular vista, shooting the milky way at the same spot in the same way everyone else does, or standing at a viewpoint next to a big waterfall. It is just like a hamster in a wheel going nowhere fast artistically.
Creating photos just to sell
As stated above, these types of photos are popular. They have better odds of selling themselves online or in a gallery because they are just that, popular. Albert Einstein is famously quoted saying, “ What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right”. We have to be smart about what our goals are as landscape photographers. Creating what is popular is going to sell well now with people, but tastes change and what is popular now will likely become cliche tomorrow.
I know it isn’t easy going against the flow, and there might be some good things to learn from what is popular in landscape photography right now. Be self aware of what you are creating though, and whether it speaks your vision in a coherent way. Being an artist is difficult, especially in today’s crowded landscape photography field filled with talented artists. If you want to stand out though it doesn’t make sense to just do the exact same thing everyone else is. Find your own niche and own it!