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…)

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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?

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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.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

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.

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The crowds.  The brief hike.  The views.  The excitement in the faces of those new to this location.

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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.

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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.

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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.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

If you’re willing to look.

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12 thoughts on “WC: Overcoming the Tourist Trap

  1. That was great! Thanks for sharing your perspective. (sorry about the pun.) No, in all seriousness, this was a wonderful read; it refreshed my interest and perspective on those same issues — what to do with the popular spot that has been shot thousands of times. I really loved your vision.

  2. Totally agree with your view.. I too do the same thing. But then people want try to look for that “Classic Shot” which every tourist clicks! So I do take one of two of that mundane shot rest all my own creativity.

    • I have plenty of the “classic” as well; I just strive for more than that, as the “classic” is now boring to me. I have the luxury of having been there many many times 🙂 I’m glad you have a similar approach.

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