If you're an aspiring professional landscape and outdoor photographer, it might be time to stop capturing those iconic landscape scenes.
If you've ever been to Zion National Park, then you're aware of the bridge leading into the Park and the classic photo of the Watchman with the Virgin River in the foreground. Refer to the cover photo of this article if you're unaware of the bridge or haven't been to the park.
While leaving Zion around sunset a few weeks ago, I watched as countless photographers lined the bridge with tripods and professional-level DSLR and lenses in hand, waiting to capture the right light over the mountain and river. I definitely have captured the same scene before on a less crowded evening, but know that it was just out of enjoyment for being in the place and wanting to have my own memento from the time I was there. I highly doubt I'd ever attempt to sell the photograph or use it in a positive way for my photography business.
I know that some or maybe even most of the photographers on the bridge may not be professional photographers or even aspiring professional photographers, but for those who were and for those who want to take the shot in the future for your photography business, I ask you to rethink that shutter click. Before clicking the shutter of such an iconic spot and overshot scene, especially if you're hoping to sell the image and better your business, ask yourself if you're creating anything original. Will potential or existing customers truly be blown away at your image, or will they sigh and pass over it because they've seen the same exact photograph from countless other photographers in the past? Or, can they just buy that image from a different photographer? What's unique about your image?
Creating original images in iconic places such as Zion or any other national or well-known state park can be extremely difficult. It's something I'm personally always struggling with in my own photography pursuits, and I'm certainly guilty of capturing and attempting to sell the "iconic shot" of public lands. I'm not saying it's bad to capture a beautiful moment with the right light, but if that same scene is already overshot and images are already being sold, commercially or privately, then how do you think your vision will add to an already overshot and over-publicized location? Maybe it's time we start looking at landscapes with a new creative eye and vision.
I think that one huge way to help in seeing the world differently is by viewing portfolios that do just that. For inspiration in looking at the world a bit differently, someone whose work I always look at is Chris Murray on Instagram.
What do you think of this idea? Do you find yourself struggling in the same pursuit? Or is capturing and selling an image of an iconic and overshot scene something you don't mind doing?