Landscape photographers tend to use more than the average truck drivers carbon quota in the endless pursuit to represent well know and well loved locations. Now please don’t misinterpret this observation, I understand why these honey spots exist with their magic ingredients of dramatic, mountain ranges, spectacular geology, an abundance of natural beauty. But paradoxically alongside the exceptional photographic ingredients comes multitudes of endless repetition, (not to forget swarms of glory clickers). Again, please don’t assume it is my view that there is anything wrong with enjoying dramatic locations, (that is in-fact what most landscape photographers have in common) and even wanting to capture a little bit of it to hang on your livening room wall for your grandmother to admire on Christmas day, is totally respectable. But this approach keeps the generalised perception of landscape photography very much lead by the masses and more importantly, rejects anything commercially that isn’t widely recognisable!
In most kinds of art there are commercial (effortless interpreted) and high brow (generally about concept, but often countering the popular). Now obviously this is a massive oversimplification, in order to keep the word count down, but please for a moment try to consider how this divide shapes the photographers, and art we see around us.
It’s almost as though one has to choose an ideology and develop a personal philosophical struggle that explores the shades of grey between internal and external recognition, between commercial and not. Does one follow the fast moving flow of popular praise, or does one meander and explore the deeper pools on the edge? Well that really does depend on your ideological vision and whether or not you are trying to forge a profession. This internal mental struggle has frequently occupied my thoughts over the years and personally I’ve slowly fashioned a tentative ideology based on personal development mixed with the occasional ego satisfying departures.
But this weekend whilst desperately trying to work a popular location to forge my own interpretation, I decided to turn my lens away from the iconic medieval abbey and in perfect conditions I chose to take a risk with an unfamiliar location, (just down river but somewhere I’d never visited). This was a big risk commercially, (considering the perfect conditions), but satisfying creatively because I had to work that bit harder to see something different. The results may or not be popular, or even groundbreaking, but that doesn’t really matter, for me in that location they highlight a refreshing shift outside my comfort zone.
Nothing new ever came from endlessly following the well trodden path, so just for a moment try to consider your own development and I challenge you to depart from your usual secure direction and who knows you may even make the next honey spot. I challenge you to force yourself into making your local area work, develop your skills by pushing yourself outside these comfort zones and hopefully develop a voice of your own! It will help you approach these locations with fresh eyes that can’t see the tripod holes of past pioneers!