When traveling, unless you’re a more self-assured photographer than I, there’s a burning desire to capture that iconic shot. You know, the one image of a place that was great the first dozen times it was shot, but now is a cliché after being shot a million+ times. Still, it’s a cliché for a reason – it’s a great shot, and most of us want to have it in our portfolio. Sure it lacks creativity, but it’s such a great shot!
My normal advice is to get that clichéd shot out-of-the-way, then move on to try to capture the subject with a more creative eye: use ultra-wide angle, use telephoto, shoot details, shoot from different viewpoints, shoot in HDR, try different processing methods, etc. Put your own spin on it!. Of course, that is easier said than done when your subject has been shot a million times.
Well this story is a bit of a twist on my standard advice. Last week, Tanya, Nahla and I spent two nights in Seattle, staying a great bed and breakfast at the Pike Place Market (Pensione Nichols, dog friendly and highly recommended). This was not a photo trip, so while I brought my gear, I didn’t take a lot of images. I didn’t mind too much, I’ve shot at the Market several times before, and it was fun just hanging out in Seattle with Tanya and the dog without anything on the agenda. Besides, Nahla was the hit of the Market – strangers asked us probably 100 times if they could take her picture.
However, even though I’ve shot at the Market before, I’ve never gotten the iconic shot – the neon Market sign at dusk. I’m sure you’ve seen it; if not just to a Google image search for “Pike Place Market Sign”. There are actually two signs, one with the clock set amongst the market buildings and the other with a fish with sky as background. And the classic time to shot the signs is at dusk, when the neon glows, but you still have good color in the sky.
So, I did haul the camera and tripod out one of our two evenings there and captured my version of the clichéd icons. Then I put the camera away. I felt a bit guilty, taking only the icon shot; but I rationalized my choice because as an expert on Seattle travel photography (having literally written the book on the subject), I absolutely needed these images in my portfolio. Self justification? Perhaps, but also somewhat of a guilty pleasure (being original is hard after all!).
I’m sure I’ll be photographing up at Pike Place Market again before too long. After all, it is a top Seattle travel photography site. But now that I have my icon shots out-of-the-way, I will be able to try to get more creative next time. At least that is my hope.
July 8, 2014 | Categories: Hints and Advice, photography, Seattle, Travel Photography | Tags: cliche, icon, neon sign, photography, Pike Place Market, Seattle, travel photography, Washington | 2 Comments