Beyond Obvious Compositions

Iconic locations have been 'done to death', as many would say. Do you photograph them? Is it time to rethink about our 'iconic location' attitude perhaps?

Classic and iconic scenes are amazing; they can look stunning. Most of us do our best to capture them under the best light and try to do them justice by applying our own individual style.

I’ve heard people saying in the past that, they ‘don’t do iconic locations as either they have been done by someone else or have been done to death’. As far as I am concerned, the vast majority of locations in the UK (and probably other countries) have been done to death. So, what is one supposed to do? Give up photography because someone else has been there before? Fortunately, I do not subscribe to this philosophy.

I know people who, for the above-mentioned reason, do not own a single picture of these classic and iconic locations. Believe me, we have some stunning locations in the UK, so how can one resist photographing them? Besides, how can you prove to yourself that you are better than everyone else other than by producing a better version of it? After all, competition is one of the reasons we improve as photographers, and humans. This subject can be argued about all day and all night and yet, facts remain facts.

The point I am making and the answer to it is to create your own version. Nobody has said that you have to make an image as identical as possible to all others. What about your own interpretation of the location and how your artistic eye surveys a scene? We all think landscape photography should be called art, so we might as well start acting as artists. After all, very many elements can make a scene look different and unique: mood, light, the season, our personal mood status, and so on.

Take this image for instance. Many of you will recognise the location by the two islands in the distance, others will not. It is a very popular location in Cornwall, England, and its name is Porth Nanven. The vast majority of photographers who visit the location are after one composition only, the large pebbles exposed during low tide.

Obviously, the images I had seen drew me to the location, but I arrived there with a wide-open mind. The area is much smaller than I was expecting before my visit (a tiny bay), and yet I spent over 45 minutes looking around for a different point of view before settling for this composition. There are no large pebbles on the sand to be seen in my image as I did not feel the need to include any. There is so much else to include (as you can see) that I felt I was spoilt for choice. I believe that my version is one of the very few different photographs from Porth Nanven, and it is down to the time and effort I devoted to it. Iconic location, different point of view. Is it time to rethink about our 'iconic location' attitude perhaps?

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