In this day and age of digital photography, almost everyone is a photographer. At the very least most everyones photographic sophistication is way up. What was once considered photography unique to those who shot for National Geographic Magazine has now become known as a cliche'. To impress or grab the attention of Joe Public today your photos need to be unique and different.
This couple summers ago I scouted the Tetons for a workshop I would later lead there for Texas Photo Workshops. I decided to get up early and shoot the Mormon Barns in the park the day after landing in Jackson Hole. Arriving while it was still dark I found one other photographer who had beat me there, nabbing the best angle of course. Since, like most of us, I’ve seen millions of images of this barn over the years, I wanted to find an angle at least rarely shot. Deep in a hole my angle was found. First the 4×5 field view camera was set up and then my trusty Nikon.
Soon there was ten photographers around me, but birds could still be heard chirping. Then 20, 25, 30 35…at least I had my unique hole angle…whatever. It now sounded more like a packed Starbucks than a national park before sunrise! Then the peak dawn arrived and a gaggle of voices was replaced with a array of shutters. I simply felt cheap! I had built a very successful career on always shooting the unique angle or approach. Truthfully, I still even haven’t bothered processing the 4×5 film yet.
After spending the last day scouting my workshop, I landed hard in my bed, still a bit depressed and haunted by what was experienced at the barns. My son came in to our room complaining about all the flashlights I had brought with us and the room they took up in the Landcruiser. Then it hit me…What about light painting the barns? I had never seen an image of the barns light painted! I was out of that bed like a 17 year old teen. Though it was darkening, I still had time to make it. Long story short, the shot above is the end result. I left the mountains pleased and soon the photo caught the attention of many, including those at Rangefinder Magazine. Rangefinder was intrigued about how I shot it and asked I write an article. One other note, as an email promo, my site traffic increased the most from all my other email promos. Unique approaches and angles is what everyone is looking for, not the same old shots!
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