Tourist spots are so cliche and overdone that most self-respecting photographers will steer way clear. However, there are times when a photographer has visitors from out of town, and they want to see these famous sites. Many begrudgingly agree but leave the camera at home – what’s the point in shooting something with more clicks than the Google homepage? (I might be exaggerating…)
Sure, I’ve shot Multnomah Falls countless times, and I was once that visitor who wanted to see it with my own eyes. I don’t ever seek it out on my own, now, unless there’s the promise of something unique, like a frozen waterfall. But when a visitor wants to see it, of course we’re happy to take him. And as an avid photographer, I wouldn’t dream of leaving my camera behind.
So what do I do?
I don’t just want to take the same pictures I’ve taken before, so I see it as a challenge to come back with something new. Each visit understandably makes this goal more difficult, but having already taken the “easy pictures,” I’m forced to look deeper – to really notice the details.
There are many elements that make up this famous tourist spot: people, paths, a bridge, and – oh yeah – a waterfall. While most can only see the entire site as a whole, I found enjoyment in observing the constituent parts that come together to build the structure of this experience.
The crowds. The brief hike. The views. The excitement in the faces of those new to this location.
Our visitor took constant pictures, thrilled to see something he’d be hard-pressed to find at home, “wow” on endless repeat from his lips.
Meanwhile, I deliberately avoided the classic image of the bridge with the full span of the waterfall as a backdrop. I found other details to highlight the visit – like these moments of awe.
I’m not too keen on getting caught in a tourist trap, but these opportunities do force me to stretch a bit. These new perspectives are tools I can draw from at future shoots, so I can’t complain. Even the most mundane of subjects can offer something new.
If you’re willing to look.
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