Open Instagram and type in the name of any landmark or any iconic place anywhere in the world and you will see hundreds of thousands, sometimes even millions of images that all look the same. Travel photography is nothing new; capturing images of the places we visit is a favorite pastime of many. But why do we feel the need to copy images that have been taken before? A new app has just been released that makes us ask this question, and we have to wonder if services like Instagram and apps like Explorest are killing the desire to make original content. Lets explore this a little further after the break.
Up front I have to say that there is nothing wrong with taking images that look similar to some that have been taken by others before you, but it is so much better to create something that is uniquely you. Sure, the picture you saw on Instagram of the Brooklyn Bridge got a gazillion likes, so it makes sense that you might want to stand in the exact same location as 2 zillion people before you to capture the same image, but where is the fun in that? Why copy someone else when you can create an image and tell a story that’s all you?
“…go and see a landmark or location, be in the moment, take it in, enjoy it, and then move on to a different spot where the masses aren’t so you can capture it in your own way.”
A recent article on Wired talked about why people like to take the same images over and over again when it comes to travel photography, and how apps like Explorest are helping people find the exact same spot (to within inches) where popular photos have been taken from. This, to me, creates a few problems. As mentioned above, this will absolutely kill creativity. Half the fun of capturing images is making something original, something that has never been done before. Being able to capture well known landmarks or landscapes from a view that people haven’t seen before is so much more rewarding than copying countless others. It’s so much better to be able to say, “I made this. I saw the X place with my own eyes and put my own spin on it.” That’s what being a creative is all about. It’s not about copying what’s popular.
The second problem is that the spots where the images have been taken from will become even more overcrowded with people all trying to capture an image that might get them Instafame. It happened to someone else, so surely you’ll get the same phone-crippling ‘like’ notifications they did right? No, you won’t experience that simply because it’s been done before. Day after day you can scroll through photo sharing apps and you’ll see similar images over and over again.
“Be true to yourself, and to your talents and visions, and not to an image you have already seen.”
What has happened to creativity? Apps like Explorest, or any other geotagging app will not only lead to more of the same images, it will make visiting the places a nightmare too. I also think apps like this could potentially take the fun out of traveling and exploring. Traveling and travel photography isn’t about visiting places that are already popular, it’s about forging your own path and finding places that can be equally as stunning to see and capture.
“Being able to capture well known landmarks or landscapes from a view that people haven’t seen before is so much better than copying someone else.”
There are already thousands of places around the globe that are constantly filled with hundreds of photographers all vying for the exact same spot to capture an image that’s been done to death. How is that fun? That sounds ridiculously stressful to me while travelling and photography should be enjoyable and relaxing.
It makes much more sense to go and see a landmark or location, be in the moment, take it in, enjoy it, and then move on to a different spot where the masses aren’t so you can capture the place in your own way. Get down low, get up high, find a unique angle, a new take, own it, capture it, and be proud of your work. The key phrase there is your work. Be true to yourself, and to your talents and visions, and not to an image you have already seen.
“Why copy someone else when you can create an image that’s all you?”
Use your visions and your creativity to tell a story about a place from your perspective. I promise: your travel photography will be much better, and you’ll get a great sense of accomplishment when someone tells you how amazing your image is. You’ll also have a story to tell about how you found the spot, and how you got the image. Travel photography is about YOUR journey; it’s about capturing the world through YOUR eyes, not someone else’s. Let’s put an end to the copying, and let’s all be on a mission to create unique, original images.