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Why So Many People Love Landscape Photography

I wrote a blog post today (http://mattyk.me/RRSGDi) with some thoughts on the topic. Basically, have you ever heard about (or see) one of those popular landscape photography locations that’s absolutely packed with people? Ever wonder why everyone is standing there taking the same exact photo that maybe tens of hundreds of thousands of photographers have taken before? If you haven’t witnessed it personally, then you’ve probably seen it. And if you haven’t, then just check out the photo above taken at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. Believe it or not, you’re not even seeing the other 50+ people that were to the right of me in that photo. So with crowds often like this, and so many photos looking similar to each other, why do so many people love landscape photography?

To me, I think it's the process of actually making a photo that people love (not just the photo itself). I wrote a little more about it on my blog today with a story of how it clicked with a friend of mine. Here's the link:
http://mattyk.me/RRSGDi
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29 comments
 
Matt, that's why I love living and shooting in Alaska. Incredible beauty both on and outside the tourist destinations, and never that crowded. 
 
I am always so alone when I go out shooting - I've never seen this before.  I'm not sure what I would do... I think the crowding would take away from the experience for me... and I'd have to go off looking for someplace less crowded!  ;)
 
Your Monument Valley shot in the blog post looks fantastic viewed large. Definitely detracts something from it to view it small.

Interesting concepts discussed, I love photographing landscapes, but a situation like the above in Arches NP makes me cringe.
 
I guess it depends on how you look at it +Rick Brown +Sandra Parlow +Gary Harris
Part of the allure to going to locations like this is you meet great people. You learn a ton from talking to them and you develop new friends all over... and you still get the shot while doing it all. But sometimes photography is more of a solo experience which is totally fine too. Just depends what you're in the mood for at the time I guess :)
 
Matt,

I agree with you that being there, experiencing the place, and the process of making your own photo, are all enjoyable and part of what it's about.

However, I think your article is fundamentally misconceived, in regard to your belief that the crowds photographing a location - as shown above - are all taking the same picture. In my experience, that's a myth and just not at all true. When you walk up to a location that's been photographed a million times before, as you say, it's erroneous to think that there are only a million or fewer novel photos to be taken of the location. The number of novel photos to be taken of any location is far, far larger.

Many people go there with the intent to photograph it in their own unique way - and many of them succeed. The direction of the light, its color, intensity, and diffusion, are never the same twice. Likewise with the clouds, the snow, the wildlife, and so on. Some people shoot wide and others shoot tight, some with polarizers and others not, some with ND filters for long exposures and others not, some show lots of ground and others lots of sky, some focus stack while others do a panoramic stitch and yet others do a bracketed HDR, some shoot color while others shoot B&W while yet others shoot infrared, and so on. The combinations and possibilities are truly limitless to express it our own way. Even next to a hundred others in a crowd. Even when it's been photographed a million times before.
 
Well, for me, I guess it's more of "what I'm used to"  as there aren't many photographers in my area, and we don't have any super exciting locations in our neck of the woods, so normally I am all alone.

However, the 2 photo walks I've been on have been like that and it was a lot of fun... but we were all there "together"  so I'm not sure how it would be with total strangers...

I think my shyness would win out and I'd be nervous to talk to anyone!  lol! 
 
+Matt Kloskowski great point. That would be why workshops have been some of the most fun I've ever had.

Reminds me of a situation where my cousin brought an image to me of a Bald Eagle in a calendar because she thought my copyright had been infringed. The image did look remarkably similar to mine. I looked for the credit line and when I found it all was explained. It was by a woman that was lying on the ground next to me at the workshop as we shot up at the eagle. That was my first workshop and it was a blast, but we did produce amazingly similar looking images. I licensed two images from the workshop, but they looked entirely different than the image in my story.
 
That's why I go to catch the small pieces on earth. A simple in good light is much better then the well-known big sceneries.
 
+Matt Kloskowski agreed. I dont know how I'd take it if I went to one of my favorite "shangra-li" places to shoot here on the Kenai peninsula, and found it lined up with photographers. I think I would enjoy mixing, but I do tend to like the solitariness.

I'd probably also think "Crap. There goes the neigborhood".  I mean, Alaska has 700,000 people and 600,000 square miles. So if I start bumping into that many people outside of Denali or some other high attraction spot, I don't know how I would react.
 
When I was there years ago it was not different, photographers on this side waiting for sunset and it's pretty colors. And yelling photographers when a girl tried to pose under the arch :)
It might be true that some did different shots and composition but I would say 90% were after the well known and typical shots.
 
One reason I've been moving to doing more composites and other type of photography.  While I love landscape photography and the wonderful light that can be captured, I'm finding I want something more personal that makes a statement.
 
BTW, re Alaska - 1/2 that 700,000 pop. lives in Anchorage. So that leaves the rest of us even MORE room! <grin>
 
Although I'd be there on the line too.. it does take away one very enjoyable part of landscape photography in the capturing something very unique that not many (if any) people have seen.  As good as one may be, the differences between your shot and the thousands (millions?) of others will be minimal by comparison.  You still need your shot of it in your portfolio though. :)
Ken Z
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I've never been to a spot that has so many other photographers...and if I were to ever find myself in such a spot, I would have a very hard time making a photo that I would feel was mine. Must be a strange experience....

+Matt Kloskowski (and others) do you ever feel like by teaching all of these seminars and find yourself in these situations, that you struggle to have your "own" photos?
 
I have been to Delicate Arch a dozen time now. I every time I go to Moab it's on my list of things to do.  Yes its allways got a crowd of people around it.  But I still get that awwwwwwwww felling every time I come around the conrner - and bam its there !!!
 
...For the total and complete lack of needing model releases. 
 
+Mike Spinak  - I think you missed +Matt Kloskowski point.  I think Matt is saying that 50 people can have different pictures, even if they stood shoulder to shoulder. 
 
So when he wrote.... 

"... And honestly, I’ve seen many greater than mine. But I consider my trip an absolute success because I got to shoot Monument Valley the way I wanted to. I can still admire other’s photos of the area, but now I also have my own – and that means a lot to me. I was there. I got to feel what it was like. I got to experience the scenery, the air, the beautiful color in the sunset/sunrise, and the feeling of taking my own photo there. Plus, I got to put my own spin on the post-processing (which regardless if anyone admits is a HUGE part of landscape and outdoor photography).

That’s what it’s all about and that’s why I have absolutely no problem walking up to a location that’s been photographed a million times before, and taking my own photo..."

He was saying not to go out and take it because its exactly the same as everyone elses?
 
No, +RC Concepcion, but he's talking more about going out there and making it it for the experience of making it than about going out there and making it for the opportunity to create a unique expression.

"...I can still admire other’s photos of the area, but now I also have my own – and that means a lot to me. I was there. I got to feel what it was like. I got to experience the scenery, the air, the beautiful color in the sunset/sunrise, and the feeling of taking my own photo there...."
 
+Matt Kloskowski Good points! For me, it's absolutely "the process of actually making a photo", it's about "the journey that it took to create the image" and not just the photo itself.
Ken Z
 
+RC Concepcion -- I thought I remember a Grid episode where the idea of building your portfolio from these kinds of settings was not the best idea and I think Matt and Scott even mentioned that none of their photos from seminars made it to their portfolios....
 
i read the blog, i really like : " I can still admire other’s photos of the area, but now I also have my own – and that means a lot to me." yes !! nice picture too !
btw your sensor need a " cleaning moment " : )
without rancor ; )
 
Matt, what setting do you save the files to for the "normal" view and then the "larger" view on your website / blog? e.g "normal" 72 dpi, longest side 800px, quality 70% etc and what for the "Larger" files? There really is a huge difference and the larger ones show off the D800 so well.

Thanks
Johan
 
+Ken Zuk +RC Concepcion - It's different Ken. When we spoke on it during the Grid we were talking about going to some place like the live model shoot at Photoshop World and using those shots in your portfolio. Some one else picked the models. Some one else picked the wardrobe, the make up and usually the lighting and the pose as well. So all you're doing is walking up and taking a photo that some one else set up. If you use those in your portfolio you're telling a potential viewer "I can do this!". But you really can't. Some one else artistically directed everything. 

Now... a landscape seminar is different. You basically go to a location and get out of a car. At that point, everything is up to you. Where you take the photo. How you frame the photo. Even what you take a photo of? RC can tell you that everyone had their camera pointed in a different direction shooting something different. So the photos you come away with are fairly unique. 

You'll notice I never use the plane photos I shot during +Moose Peterson aviation workshop in my portfolio. That's because Moose and his team set everything up. I use them as "show off" images in a header screen or a print on my wall. But I don't use them to show off "this is what I can do" because it's not.

Hope that helps tie things together for you Ken.
Ken Z
 
Thanks +Matt Kloskowski -- makes sense...I must have not remembered the comments correctly from the Grid...I can see how the seminar would be similiar to a photo walk...it is amazing how many unique shots there are...everyone has their own eyes :)

Thanks for making the clarification! 
 
Interesting comments. Difference in opinions, different perspective. +Matt Kloskowski you took an interesting perspective here, I bet no other person did it. Nice! Enjoyed reading the blog
 
hi where could I see this at full resolution the small photo here is hard to really get the picture
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