Can a place be photographed too much?

February 05, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Morning Calm in the GardenMorning Calm in the GardenSunrise on Garden of the Gods

I was recently part of a discussion on a friend's Facebook post in which the question (more or less) was posited, can a beautiful place be photographed too much?  As it happens, we were talking about Garden of the Gods, which you can see in the image above, at the time.  If you live in the Colorado Springs area, you see about eight gazillion photographs of Garden of the Gods each and every day, followed closely by Pikes Peak (and of course, most often jointly).

 

I think the obvious answer in a generic sense is that no, a place can't be photographed too much; as an attraction, it's not going to lose its luster to the public just because there are lots of photos of it.  Garden of the Gods, Half Dome or El Capitan at Yosemite, the rocky Oregon coastline, etc. are always going to be beautiful, and always come across as magic in photos by skilled photographers.  However, when you boil it down to a more micro level, I think the answer changes, or at least for me it does.

 

Using Garden of the Gods as the example, as it's what precipitated the original conversation and is the overly photographed scene right in my backyard, I have to say yes.  Colorado Springs is LOADED with landscape photographers, both professional and amateur.  Many of them are quite good.  However, no matter how good the individual pictures might be, many days I find myself thinking; as I peruse my Facebook feed, local news or social media sites, etc.; "Really, ANOTHER picture of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods?  Didn't you do that yesterday, and the day before, and last week?  And, weren't there 100 other photographers out there with you, doing the exact same thing?"  Now, don't get me wrong: many of these photographers are shooting outstanding images on their daily treks to this beautiful place, especially those skilled in capturing a good sunrise or sunset.  To me, though, even with changing skies from day to day, I only see so much variety in their images after a while, and they slowly all kind of blend into one.  Find a different spot!

 

For me, personally, I also get bored not just with shooting the same spot over and over again, but also shooting the same stuff I know 100 other photographers are going to post that day, and the next, and the next...  That's why, even though they're beautiful attractions and right in my backyard, you don't see a lot of the Pikes Peak or Garden of the Gods shots in my portfolio.  There's a few, and I'm sure there will be a few more at some point, but overall I don't see myself adding much to the overall local photography landscape by piling on more of these.  I wish I could enjoy the repetition (and just be happy with the subtle differences that there are from day to day, which there always are) as much as these other 'togs, but I just get bored.

 

Of course, that self-limitation is a bit, well, limiting.  Naturally, as many other 'togs with day jobs, Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods is what I get to see on a daily basis between work and home life, so they are the convenient landscape monuments to photograph.  So what to do?  My wife and I are actually considering moving to change those day-to-day views and photographing opportunities, with thoughts of moving further west to get a different view of other beautiful, western landscapes; or even maybe moving back to a large Midwestern city and focusing more on the urban side of photography for a while, really shake things up.  Or else maybe I just need to escape to the backcountry more often on weekends to get those stellar, unique vistas.  :)

 

What do you think?  Is there anything in your locale in which you tire of seeing photographs?


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