For me it seems like there are places that you go to and you know what you want and you can get it right away and be done and happy with it. Then there are places that you can get some work that you can be happy with (or not) but you know that there is more there and you feel the need to go back. It may be just one more trip. Maybe several. If you can go to a place and keep producing new and exciting work then go for it.
Gavin, I revisit many places. These places are in woods, some quite remote. They are places I like to be, quiet and pleasant. But they change. Not only from light or season but over time- trees grow and die, branches rot away or are washed away and new ones fall. Winter ice will even cause rocks to change position or emege up from the dirt. I work in a fairly northern area. Some places I have visited on and off for 30 years and more I suppose. Places are dear to me and a visit is as if to an old friend's. I am fortunate to be near some large and beautiful bush.
I've become sentimentally attached to places. There is some value in the respect and admoration I have for it. I see its beauty change or my vision change as years go by, like a good book from childhood read again in middle age. Also there is heart break when development encroahes or drought or storm causes havoc. These too, are good emotions. Attachment and committment to a place is good. It promotes understanding and sensitivity. just an opinion.
The floods I heard about in UK can sure demonsrate the havoc part of my point.
I have photographed a waterfall, Roughting Linn for 30 years and never tire of it. I visit the place at least 4 times every year sometimes just to sit, look and enjoy. I don't always find something new to photograph but never repeat what I have already done. I have found it to be very stimulating because my approach always makes me look for angles etc that I have never used, consequently I am always having to "see" in different ways.
The best example that I have seen of revisiting the same subject was a one year series by John Blakemore, a British photographer, that concentrated on a single oak tree. He photographed it in all seasons and in all weather conditions and the final work is sublime but unfortunately the only publication of it is in a corporate book for the company who commissioned the work.
I'm lucky in that my main subject matter is the temperate rainforest of BC's north coast. I've walked some trails hundreds of times, but will always take great meandering archs off of the trails into parts of the forest I've never seen before. Everything is jammed tight with growth, and if you move 20 feet in any direction the compositions completely change. The trick is finding the 'keeper' compositions in a maddeningly infinite array of possibilities.
Different people have different strengths, and mine is to photograph that which I understand the most.
I don't consider myself a landscape photographer at all, but over the past couple of years I've been taking a lot more landscape shots. Both locations are places I have known for many years - in one case the area where I spent the second part of my childhood, and I've been visiting ever since, the other an area I have been visiting for over 20 years. I can't really imagine taking or wishing to take pictures of landscapes of places I've never visited before or don't know intimately.
I suppose the pictures I take are about me, or my relationship with the place as much as anything, it's not that I actively choose to work like this, I just don't or couldn't do it any other way.
There is also a place, (i.e.house an garden) rather than a landscape, that I've been actively documenting over the past 4 years or so.
I never run out of pictures to take, or get bored - I have many shots over many seasons, one day I'll sort them out.
I don't know the ethics and values of this, it might be that I'm self-obsessed, or things have to come from within myself as much as what's 'out there', but I can't help that either...
I think the most viable way of getting a stellar photo of a place you really enjoy is to photograph it several, or numerous, times. Why did Adams do so well with Yosemite? Because he LIVED there, that's why, and lived their for nearly his entire adult life.
The landscape changes dramatically with the seasons. Vegetation changes in texture, colors, contrasts all change, sun angle changes. Then there's the daily variation of clouds. Although it does happen, chances of getting a real stellar shot on a one-time visit slim.
The Quabbin Reservoir... I have been there many times to photograph, lived in its shadow almost my entire life and have known people who were displaced by its construction. The Quabbin has affected, influenced and inspired many of us western Bay Staters.
I hope I never tire of wandering its paths.
I'll go to a spot until I feel I have a shot that satisifies me. I did 3 coast to coast trips to the Palouse in 2003 to get photos at 2 places that i liked, "Prescott Trees" and "Palouse Powerlines". I would not plan on shooting at either of them again unless I was in the neighborhood and there were highly unusual or extremely promising conditions.
I can understand the desire to shoot close to home and to go to the same location time and time again. It is familiar, and it's also easy. One of the hardest things is to find great spots, and once you find one, if you can make images that are sufficiently different each time you can be very productive. Some locations can change dramatically at different times of the year. And a location that you're familar with, you know the best angle, you know where the sun comes from, you know if the foliage is evergreen or deciduous, you can easily optimise the process and you can look out the window and know what the conditions are at that spot in real time. Also with locations close to home there's more of a personal connection for the artist. On the other hand having 6 shots of the same scene in your portfolio might not be the best thing either.
For me though, I'm always curious as to what is around the next corner.
Even before you posted this I was ruminating on how to refine my earlier post and differentiate between a place one returns to for "refreshment" as opposed to being a bit "obssessed" about it.
Originally Posted by Early Riser
For me, shooting as I do on a much lower level of accomplishment than you, I make my occassional visit up to High Valley as a means of quick escape to some place of "easy beauty" that will always give me a "shot" (in many meanings of the word).
But I definitely agree, that one needs to reach out and explore new places and opportunities.
I return to HV during periods when I'm m/l of "stuck at home" and just need to reconnect with a place where I can shoot some film and feel good that both the camera and me are still on "speaking terms".
Maybe it's a bit like just doing some "backyard shots" - but it's a photographic way of putting on some comfortable old shoes and enjoying the fact that sometimes familiarity breeds contentment rather than contempt.
I think you're right, Gavin. It's hard to make your best art when you're not working with something personal... the effects of impersonal art are often cold and lacking in that certain magic that makes a piece special. How can you expect someone to have a connection with your work if you don't? There are many ways to accomplish this, even on the road. For me, I've found photographing Campbell's Farm, where I've lived continually for my 29 years, to be challenging yet most productive. For example:
These two images were taken of nearly the exact same spot, about 50 yards behind my home with about the same focal length lens. To work a place fully you must photograph it over time not only for the sake of changes in the subject but, more importantly, for the sake of changes in yourself.
All the best. Shawn