Last week I decided to earn some Wyoming street cred by photographing Grand Teton National Park, something I had put off since moving to Wyoming more than three years ago. It’s a place of grand beauty, stunning landscapes, and enough photographic clichés to kill a healthy adult male….really. Of course, clichés exist because certain views are spectacular and many pretty images have been made of such scenes, and people want to be able to recreate those pretty pictures …over and over. And that, my friends in the problem. Too many photographers (and I use that term loosely) are content to simply recreate, rather than create. It’s the easy way, the path of least resistance, and for anyone claiming to be a serious photographer, the wrong path to take.
So anyway, I was in the park and looking for images which, while perhaps iconic, were not cliché or, at the very least, not TOO cliché. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was downright hard. Much of the park is closed in winter due to excessive snow, restricting visitors to the one major north/south road which cuts a path through the park, paralleling the mountain range. Due to the winter season, visitation was light overall but, a couple days after the full moon, the “photographers” were out in droves. This must be in some photo guide book, because a lot of out of state folks were there, but at that time of that morning the setting moon nestles between the mountain peaks as the first rays of the morning sun light the peaks….and I was standing ignorantly beside them. When I realized what was happening, that I was about to take part in a group photo grope, I packed up and left. A guy wielding two tripods and three cameras yelled to me that the best was yet to come, but I doubted it.
In two and half days of exploring the park I shot a handful of decent images but for me that is enough (with some trips I come back empty handed). I am not after frame count nor copies, but instead want to find images that are unique, powerful in their simplicity…..and meaningful, even that means I have to work hard for them. That is why I photograph.