If I stumble upon a great landscape and take a photo, is it a great photo, or just a normal photo of a great view? Or if I shoot an amazing looking model — is it any good as a photo, or is it just a simple photo of a hot model?

Does a beautiful landscape make a good photograph?

As you may know, I like hiking. I’ve been on few amazing trips in Lapland. Beautiful landscapes are not hard to find. On my first trip, I had my Nikon DSLR with me. I captured some amazing landscapes, but I was very disappointed after realising that my friend, who is as far away from a photographer as you could think of, had taken almost exactly the same images with his mobile phone. The landscapes that we both shot, were so similar, that I would have not recognised my own shot from his. Anyone who would have arrived to those spots, could have replicated my shots quite easily. I thought I should have know better than that.

Generic adventure photography is running pretty wild on Instragram. It seems more and more photographers are heading to Iceland to shoot landscapes. I’m sure it’s breathtakingly beautiful country, but there’s a million instagrammers taking exactly the same images. I think it’s a tricky question. I can honestly say that I kinda like some of the #neverstopexploring -aesthetics, but at the same time it just bugs the hell out of me to see the same stuff being replicated over and over again. I can’t really judge it as bad photography, but not very good either for some reason.

I’m sure you’ve seen more than enough landscape shot from Trolltunga too. You know, the famous cliff in Norway, where instagrammers go to replicate each others work. Other than the weather most likely being a bit different in each shot, what separates them from each other? No one can argue the beauty of the landscape, but I can’t accept most of them as good photography. Image search revels only few shots displaying some form of originality. Maybe I should just stop complaining, because basically everything has been done already. But nah, fuck that mentality! It sounds like an excuse for not trying to be creative.

Trolltunga example 1 from Unsplash.com
Trolltunga example 2 from Unsplash.com

Does a hot model make a good photograph?

Another example concerns model shoots. At the moment I’m looking into portraiture and scouting for models to collaborate with. I’ve been checking out some portrait work other photographers are doing. I’ve noticed a similar kind of thing going on. Even though I’ve stumbled upon some good portraiture as well, mostly it seems really generic and sort of lazy. What is the actual creative input of the photographer, if he just points the camera at a pretty model? Does a hot model equal with a good photograph? If the camera is standing on a tripod and the model is simply standing against a white studio background, is there much to it than pressing the shutter? Couldn’t anyone basically do it? Doesn’t sound any more creative than taking school photos. Other than setting up the studio, seems more like something that anyone could basically do. When I see photos like that, I’m wondering why the photographers are settling for shots like that when they have a model like that at their disposal? Seems like such wasted potential. Maybe the abundance of resources can make us lazy?

An excellent example of a model shoot done extremely well and creatively. This is a photo by Atelieri O. Haapala. They shoot digital photos, but arrange the shoots down to every detail to resemble late 19th century photography (among many other vintage inspired themes). The excellence of a work like this comes from much more advanced ideas than just resorting to a boob shot.

What I appreciate in documentary and street photography the most, is that it aims to document things that exists only a fraction of a second. A mountain may look epic, but it will stay there for every hiker to take it’s photo. But what about a true emotion or a fleeting moment captured on a frame?

This is a concern for me, because I don’t want to start my portrait project with the wrong foot. I admit that my initial though was just to team up with a beautiful model and the rest would take care of itself. But as usual, the initial thought is the worst and most primitive one.  Everyone else will most likely have the same idea. An old trick is to discard it for that reason alone. Not settling for whatever comes up in your mind at first, means that a more advanced idea has to be formed.

As I’ve mentioned on my previous post, I’m also planning a trip to the Arctic sea next spring to take photos of the amazing landscapes of the far north. I’m somewhat worried that I’m going to come back with something really generic that will not stand out in anyway of Instagram adventurers replications. On the other hand, I cannot deny that I wouldn’t like to belong to that group of photographers as well. But there has to be a way to make the images my own way. How to resist the cliches and what are the tools for creating something truly from my own point of view? Will I just go there and stand in front of the landscape like any other tourist would? Can I really come up my own way of documenting the views?