Photographing hotspots is becoming increasingly difficult for me. Snow-covered mountains in the golden morning light, landscapes with a full moon, endless expanses in Iceland, gondolas in Venice, temples in Thailand, Saddhus in India or fog over Tuscany – no matter how dreamlike they may be – I can hardly hold on to anymore. At the latest when editing the pictures at home, you realise that the same subject can already be found a thousand times over on Instagram.
However, this development also has its good sides, because it encourages creativity if you want to continue taking photos in much-visited places. There are hardly any less visited places – apart from the undestinations at DearSusan of course.
Perhaps landscape photography is at a similar point today as painting was at the advent of photography. Suddenly it was possible to realise at the push of a button what a painter had painstakingly brought to the canvas: to depict the landscape. I am convinced that the modern tendencies in painting – from pointillism to complete abstraction – are closely related to the ever-improving ability of photographic technology and photographers to depict the landscape. Painters were challenged to creatively look at and depict the world in new ways.
So how can the deja vue trap be avoided? I have decided to separate two things. The photos I take just so I don’t miss a hot-spot, I take with my iPhone – and sometimes even when I don’t have a “real” camera with me.
Photos, in contrast I take with my high-resolution camera. Photography I understand as a process of looking, of searching for special motifs, of capturing atmosphere and searching for a perfect image composition. I take my time for this. I leave out pictures that I expect to be multiplied x-fold on Instagram and Facebook. What is important to me then are moods, patterns, structures, light and shadow; with good look it might even get lost in the abstract and not always possible to locate any longer – and yet many people who look at these pictures are able to guess or at least anticipate the place where they were created.
One more ideal “training ground” for this creative challenge was my trip to Venice this spring. Already at home, I made up my mind: no gondolas, no idyllic pictures of the old town, no typical pictures of the Grand Canal, the Bridge of Sighs or the Rialto, no St. Mark’s Tower and no imposing historical buildings. Special and very perspectives only!
Did I succeed? I’m happy to leave it up to DearSusan readers to decide whether or not and whether you can still recognise the truly dreamlike atmosphere of Venice in the pictures.
I recently had a similar experience in Iceland. But I am still in the process of editing the pictures.
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