Are some locations just too "Cliche"?
Had the 711 in Bodie California this past weekend. I struggle with whether every scene there has been done 1000 too many times already. Do you get the camera out and do the same old scenes with the Model A and the '37 Chevy? We've seen them all too much already haven't we. How many times have you walked in some place with rustic pictures up and seen the same pictures of the same store fronts on main street Bodie.
I guess the simple answer (simple, but not easy) is to find a way to shoot a familiar location with new eyes. That's the real challenge in those cliche locations - to show them to people, and ourselves, in a way that transcends the familiar. In the book "Galen Rowell's Vision" he has a thought provoking essay about "image maturity." It speaks directly to the problem you had in Bodie - about how to get our vision and our photographs to grow so that the "same old subject" seems fresher.
It seems like Bodie would also be a good place to try out the exercise in Les McLean's book where one sets out with a roll film camera and absolutely must make a picture every twenty-five paces. One really learns to find photographic potential in the least likely of locations. If you have a 35mm camera with a 36 exposure roll, it really becomes an interesting learning/training experience.
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"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive" - Howard Thurman
I understand the problem, it a difficult mental exercise to get past. If you can approach the whole situation with expressing an idea or making an interesting picture rather than a "beautiful photo," - you're a long way toward solving the problem. Figure out how to express your personal viewpoint and your reaction to what you're seeing, as opposed to making a photo just to show scene.
Originally Posted by jimgalli
Hard to do. Sometimes I can't come up with a good answer myself. For those occasions (and depending upon my level of interest) I approach it a couple of different ways. If I'm not all that interested, or can't find something I'm reacting too - I just walk away with the idea I'll come back at another time.
If I'm interested, but can't find a personal viewpoint to express immediately, I try and work through it. I often start at an overall view and then work smaller details different viewpoints, colors, light shadows, etc. After a while, after examining the parts, I'll usually get an idea of what really "makes" the subject for me and then work on photographing that.
I guess you just have to believe the idea that there's an interesting photo right in front of you - just find it.
The greek islands are definately have been shot so much that you wonder how come they have survived the onslaught. So have the greek villages and their old folks. Dozens of books have been published but the vast, vast majoriy are just the typical glossy ultra-saturated color postcard kind.
It is hard to do something original anymore, to capture a quality that Manos or Balafas hasn't already made their trademark style decades ago.
But it is possible.
Even the choice of materials can help. Black and White. Medium or Large Format.
Actually, if someone has any good ideas to represent the greek space, they will be my
official guests and I would be happy to be a guide and comrade in arms (in cameras?)!
Try living some place like Santa Fe New Mexico. Not only has every scene been photographed to death, but standing there are 4 more photogs making 4 more photos.
Lots of fun.
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I believe it become a bit of a tightrope act. You want to bring something fresh to the image, sometime people go so far afield visually that the image no longer has any sense of place. One must find a balance between the desire to feel unique and the needs of the work. Also, keep in mind that everything has been done. There are 100 million cameras photographing everything all the time. It is much more important to maintain your visual integrity and produce images that showcase your vision, rather than merely trying to create something different.
A great photographer once said, "Without vision, people would be blind." Well, maybe he was actually just a great tautologist.
Eugene Richards workshops have had a similar exercise with a car -- drive five minutes, shoot, drive 5, shoot...
Originally Posted by noblebeast
Overshot scenes are especially useful for such exercises, if you follow Brodovitch's maxim: "if when you look through the finder and see a picture you've seen before, don't press the shutter button"
I saw a show in Houston of photographs that were sent to Robert Frank for review.
One body of work was of a cross-country drive where the photog stopped every 100 miles and took a shot. It was rather clever and quite nice.
Want to do a scene differently? Get on the ground. Put the camera 3 inches from the earth and shoot.
Do the Weston turnaround. He was teaching a workshop in Yosemite, and most were bored with the typical scenery. He told them there was a photograph where ever you look, all you had to do was turn around. He did just that and saw a leaf on the gravel. It became one of his lesser know photos, but still one that is usually included in his work. If he hadn't turned around and looked albiet at the ground, he would never have seen that leaf in the context he shot it.
Arigram, what you need is someones fresh new perspective. Through the eyes of someone who has never seene Greece, or Crete. It is that wonder and awe people have at seeing a new setting that will help you see it in a new light.
David--I'll be one of those photographers in Santa Fe next week. Hopefully I'll not be shooting the cliches.
Last year, my wife and I took a meandering tour through the Southwestern USA, visiting many of the cliched photographed areas of that part of the country. I told myself I wouldn't shoot those same pictures I see in the travel brochures. I shot virtually all black and white. At the Grand Canyon, I took pictures of a couple having sandwiches with their Cockatoo. I shot pictures of a little girl sleeping in her mother's lap. At Zion National Park, I shot pictures of people shooting pictures of the scenery and walking on the hiking trails. In Moab, Utah, I shot a picture of a tree that resembled a nude female torso. Along the highway, I shot pictures of trucks and billboards. In Santa Fe, I shot pictures of a cop on the plaza, a man walking a dog, cat and white rat (really) and a lady talking on a cell phone in a restaurant. I shot pictures of shoppers shopping and sellers selling (lots of that going on).
When I got back home, I printed over forty photos and arranged them in a little book that documented the trip. It was my reaction to the touristy photographs I had done in the past that were all technically excellent and all completely superficial. Since then, I keep telling myself the same thing, "Avoid the obvious." I hope I keep listening.