Photography is a creative art form but lately I have become increasingly saddened by the duplication and lack of imagination present in modern landscape photography. Some of this is intentional and some not, but capturing images that have been done before seems to me to be largely pointless.
There is very little that is accessible that hasn’t been photographed in this world and there is nothing wrong with standing in the place others have before and pointing your camera in a similar direction. However, it is my belief that as photographers we should always try to do something new.
As I write this I am planning a trip to A’Mhaighdean, a remote Munro in Scotland’s “Great Wilderness”. I’ve picked the location because its hard to get to and subsequently is little photographed in comparison to, for example, An Teallach. Yet I am going in the full knowledge of the view that will present itself to me. More than that I have a very good idea of how I will photograph the view and make the most of the conditions. I probably won’t be breaking new ground (though I will try) and so in many ways I risk falling into the ‘copycat’ trap. The image below is the ‘classic’ view from A Mhaighdean and its one I will surely photograph.
Doing something new is important to me, if I see a creative opportunity I will take it. As a result, although many of my images have been photographed before (and since!) there are many more that are new in one way or another. I try to supplement visits to famous viewpoints with investigation of less established scenes, something that is noticeably absent from the work of certain others.
At this point it probably sounds like I’m blowing my own trumpet, but I work hard to be recognised as an individual and it surprises me to see so many photographers relentlessly repeating the work of others. This is painstakingly true in American landscape photography. Despite the quite ridiculous diversity of their landscape I see numerous honey pots shot from the same spot and in the same way. There are photographers with galleries on 500px where I can go through 90% of the gallery and know exactly where the locations are without ever having visited them! Even worse are the people duplicating the style of Marc Adamus. What is that all about!? Why copy his processing when you can break new ground and develop a portfolio of your own?
One more thing….a 10 stop filter does not make up for poor composition! If you want unstructured ‘minimal’ images then sure, go nuts. Otherwise I suggest that you put that filter back in the bag and realise that it has its time and place (*always* and *at the coast* are not the time and place I am referring to!). Composition has to come first.
Anyway that’s the ranting over. Many of your who know me know that this is nothing new so sorry to be so negative! In an attempt to end this blog on a happy note I would like to draw your attention to some genuinely creative work from a friend of mine, Guy Richardson, who is coming with me to Scotland. You can check his work out here: Guy Richardson’s Photography