Some landscape photography scenes seem to be so popular among photographers, that they have become clichés. You can recognize such a location when you get there, by all the tripods, photographers and cameras present at all hours, and in all weathers. But you will of course also recognize the scene because you have seen it hundreds or thousands of times on Instagram, Flickr or 500px.
So what is the point of going halfway around the world to take exactly the same photograph as thousands of other photographers have already taken? I am not sure. And I am not trying to hate on the people who do this, because I have often been one of them.
Here is my top 10 list of the most cliche landscape photos:
10. Lake Bled, Slovenia
9. That Wanaka Tree, New Zealand
8. Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
7. Tuscany Hills, Italy
6. Bagan, Myanmar
5. Le Mont-Saint-Michel, France
4. Manarola, Italy
3. Reyniskirkja Church, Iceland
2. Sossusvlei, Namibia
1. Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA
This was my personal top 10 list of landscape photography locations I am very tired of seeing. Your list will probably be slightly different.
So, what is the point of taking these cliché photos? One valid point could be to practice as an aspiring landscape photographer, on a shot where there are many reference copies to compare with. Or it could be a nice way of boosting your self-confidence as a photographer, by taking a photograph at a place and from an angle that is proven to produce a beautiful result.
No matter the reason, it is an interesting phenomenon that I have been thinking about lately, and that I wanted to highlight with my video and this little article.
Lastly, I want to propose a challenge, to myself and to all other cliché photographers out there: The next time you find yourself in a cliché location – don't just take the same, easy, photo as everyone else. Make it your mission to take a completely unique photo, that still captures the location, but in a new and imaginative way. Perhaps from a different angle? Perhaps with a different kind of lens (last time I went to Iceland I only brought a telephoto prime lens, because I wanted my photos to differ)? Maybe with different post processing? Find a new way of capturing the scene and you might make a very impressive photograph. One of my favorite examples of this is this photograph of Vik, Iceland by Joseph Howard. He has chosen a completely new angle, and included elements that few others have thought to include, like the houses and the long exposure of traffic.
So keep going to cliché locations to practice your craft, but decide to leave taking nothing but new and original photos!