So when and how did I stop being a tourist? The truth is I'm not sure I have. But I'm working on it very hard!
Years ago when in Yosemite National Park, I climbed the 8 miles and 4500 vertical feet to the top of the "Diving Board." This is the exact location of the famous Ansel Adam iconic Half Dome shot from 1927. The one where he says he first "visualized" the outcome of his photograph before the exposure and subsequent printing. I stood, as nearly as I can tell in a very similar location, aimed my camera at Half Dome and click. I got it. As you can see from my shot just to the right of his, I saw what Ansel saw. I'm pretty sure I had an experience similar to Ansel? Or more accurately, I had his experience not my own. I merely saw this iconic view as a mirror of Ansel's experience? While my image is slightly different, I'm sure 100% of viewers would think my photograph on the right was taken by Ansel in 1927. I've never published this image for just this reason, and except for this Blog post, I will most likely never print or exhibit this image. If you have a chance, please go to Brooks Jensen's Podcast at LensWork listen to his Podcast called "Stand Here." It hammers this concept and what I felt directly on the head of the nail.
As a sidebar, I do have a rather exciting memory of the hike, the tribulation of getting to this location and the subsequent dehydration and sheer stupidity of doing 16 miles and 9000 feet up and down, without enough water or preparation! I ended up trading a charming gentleman one of my BW prints at 36"wide for a bottle of water!
The real question is, what did I learn and how did this experience and others influenced my approach to my own photography? While I've been asking myself tough questions about my work for years, this experience just crystallized in my mind the need to seek out my own experiences and perspectives and find a way to share that through my eyes.
As a Black and White Landscape photographer presenting my own personal experiences is of the utmost importance. Brooks Jensen in his podcast also eludes to the need to "learn, explore and discover" your own experiences.
While I passionately love our National Parks, they have become one of the most challenging places to create an expressive photograph. Consider all the iconic images and locations exquisitely personalized and represented by early and contemporary Masters of Photography and painters. Is there anything left? I find myself walking in the other direction more often than not. However, I do believe that does not mean there aren't opportunities to learn, explore and discover even in these situations. Finding a unique perspective is challenging, but when you see through your own eyes and have your own experiences and explore new territory, the photographs become yours.
So when did I stop being a tourist? The minute I decided to go the other direction, look, learn, explore and discover new perspectives and have my own experiences!