A Note About Not Reinventing The Wheel

Cadillac Mountain, sunrise, leica m10, street photography, acadia national park

Have you ever visited a popular place and shied away from photographing a spot that has been done millions of times?  Or worse yet, simply didn’t visit a place because it seemed over photographed (is that even a thing)?  I caught myself doing that exact same thing, much to my chagrin, this year when I had the opportunity to go to Iceland and opted not to because it was “over popular”.  More recently I headed to Acadia National Park and found myself feeling a bit deflated right before leaving because I felt the park had been covered extensively by some really great photographers…  What could they have missed, right?  Something seemed off.

What do I mean by not reinventing the wheel?  For the purposes of this article I simply mean the process of skipping popular spots/subjects and constantly trying to find something new and unique.  New and unique is great, and you should always keep an eye out for it, but don’t gloss over the beauty around you simply because someone(s) else has photographed it.  For instance, I almost skipped photographing the scene below because I wasn’t interested in an area that had been photographed billions of times.

Acadia National Park, Jordon Pond, Leica M10, Fog, Morning, Fall

Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

Fortunately, I’m a glass half full kind of guy and I had a new camera to test out (Nikon D850) for my PhotolisticLife.com readers so I sucked it up and got to work (read the review here).  And boy am I glad I did.  Photographing Acadia National Park affirmed what I had been feeling recently, that reinventing the wheel was an uphill battle and a waste of time.  There is a reason certain spots are photographed so often…  They’re freaking beautiful!!!  And up until I had gotten there, I had never photographed them before.

Street photography, coney island, new york, brooklyn, subway, leica m

I visited Coney Island in New York recently and thought I’d just spend a couple of hours there since it’s been covered EXTENSIVELY by other photographers…  I mean, what else could I possibly have to say (visually) about an area that has been so well covered?  Ironically, once I got there I ended up spending many hours a few days in a row in Coney Island as opposed to other areas of Brooklyn.  No matter how many times someplace has been photographed, until I’ve done it I’ve never done it.  Make sense?

Kiawah Island, SC

At the risk of beating a dead horse, let me leave you on this note.  I used to find it most difficult to get excited about visiting the beach to do photography.  Of all the places in the world, I feel like beaches have been photographed the absolute most.  There are almost as many beach photographs as there are grains of sand on the beaches (okay, I may be exaggerating for the sake of drama).  However, my wife’s absolute favorite place to vacation is a nice beach.  So I had a dilemma…  Either hang up my camera a couple of weeks a year and begrudgingly visit the beach or embrace the fact that beaches are photographed so much for a reason, they are beautiful.  Of course I embraced that they are beautiful and started a new minimalistic series that now gets me excited thinking about our next adventure to the beach.

Kiawah Island, SC

Have you found yourself trying to reinvent the wheel?  By that I mean have you been avoiding beautiful areas because others have “over” photographed it.  Maybe you have already photographed it before and you’re “beyond” it now.  Look, I know the feeling.  There are many places in Pittsburgh (my home city) that I’ve avoided like the plague, every time I see them photographed on Instagram I roll my eyes and quickly swipe past wondering why in the world they are still being photographed.  Then I realize I’m an idiot and recognize the fact that thousands of people photographing the same spot probably has something to do with that spot having amazing potential.

As I write this I have made the decision to revisit these popular areas around my city and try to improve on mine and others previous attempts…  You know, instead of naively turning my nose up to the idea of it like I have in the past.  So join me in hopping off our high horses and stop trying to reinvent the wheel.  Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading.

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5 replies on “A Note About Not Reinventing The Wheel”
  1. says: Lewsh

    This is a wonderful article. Every word is true and I don’t think anyone can present an argument that can change that truth. I live in Brooklyn and have shot photos in Prospect Park countless times and still find that I can have a keeper the next time I go there. Great work Mr. B.

    1. says: John Barbiaux

      Thank you, Lewsh! Prospect Park is on my list! I’m planning on going back again in the Spring, we should meet up.

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