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“The best way out is always through.”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Return to Familiar Haunts

I was surprised a while back when I was talking to a travel photographer friend and he told me that he never returns to the same destination to shoot for a second time unless he's on a paid assignment. His feeling is that there are just too many new places to shoot--at home or on the road--to spend time returning to old haunts.

I have to confess that I both agree and disagree with his philosophy. On one hand I love to see new places and I always shoot more--and usually better--photos when I'm in a brand new locale. And returning to a place does sometimes feel like you're trying to recapture a past experience--not particularly conducive to creative ideas.

On the other hand though, the more you get to know a place the more you get in touch with its moods and its deeper rhythm. Also, the more you know the geographic/physical features of the locale, the more time you can spend thinking about lighting and weather and mood and less about finding the "good" vantage points. I live about 30 minutes from the harbor shown here, for example, and I've been there dozens and dozens of times. The boats may change places from visit to visit, but the islands and the shoreline remain the same. Knowing what I'm going to encounter physically means that I can find compositions faster and pay much more attention to what the light and weather and seasons are doing. I shot this photo about 30 minutes after sunset, for example, because I knew that once the sun set the harbor would smooth over and the mist would start to settle around the islands. Had I not know the place so well, I might have left after the colors of the sunset had faded and missed this pretty twilight shot.

I think the key to deciding if old haunts are worth revisiting or not is not so much that you've been there before (for better or worse) but does the place inspire you--do you enjoy being their and looking for photos. If you do like being there then the creative possibilities are continually reborn because you imagination is open. And then, of course, when you do find yourself getting bored, you'll know it's time to wander further on down the road.

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