I’m the first to admit that my mind sometimes works in strange and bizarre ways.  Many times when I start thinking about something I end up following a lot of tangents and going down countless rabbit holes until the original thought that started everything is obscured.  I know it…I freely acknowledge it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a photo trip I’m planning for spring and early summer to the Pacific Northwest.  The Northwest is one of my very favorite areas of the country.  I spent a few years living near Seattle when I was younger and travel there every chance I get.  This year I’m planning a 2 week trip that will take me to the Columbia River Gorge, the Olympic Penninsula beaches, the Hoh Rainforest, the Palouse, and Yellowstone before heading home to Colorado.  As usual when I start planning a trip I look at thousands of images online, study maps endlessly, and rough out a shot list for the areas I’m visiting.  And there lies the rub….

I’ve seen hundreds of incredible images of the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge.  Heck, that’s what is attracting me to the area.  But here’s where my mind starts sidetracking.  While all are a little bit different, basically all the images I’ve seen of (fill in the blank) waterfall are inherently the same.  Given this information my brain promptly turned to the amazing places I’ve visited and photographed over the past 35 years.  Many of those images are of iconic locations:  The Grand Tetons, Dead Horse Point, Mesa Arch, Monument Valley, the aspens of Kebler Pass, and the list goes on and on.  Places that tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands of photographers have shot and for the most part have shot in the same way from the same place.  And I’m no different.

So that leads me to a lot of questions.  How do I differentiate my images from the tens of thousands of images of the locations I’m going to visit?  How can I show them in a way that’s unique to my photographic style.  For that matter, what the bleep IS my photographic style?  And I’ve reached some conclusions.

Yes, I am going to take the standard shots of the icons I’ll be visiting.  I’m going to photograph Punchbowl Falls and more of the falls in the Gorge.  I’ll be getting the standard shots of a babbling brook flowing around moss covered boulders.  I’ll take the standard sunset shots of the various beaches on the Olympic Peninsula and the iconic views of the rain forest.  I’ll shoot sunrise and sunset from the top of Steptoe Butte and sunset at Palouse Falls.  But that’s not all.  I’m going to concentrate on finding more creative more stylish images in these areas.

How do you handle the icons?  Leave a comment and let’s talk about it.