Have you ever been ready to take a photograph and wonder how many other people took the exact same photo right before you? And someone else right before him? How many photos have you seen of the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon and notice that the pictures are pretty close to the same? Photo album after photo album, facebook page after facebook page, all with the same vacation shot... This happened to me on our recent trip to Gatlinburg, TN.
Standing atop the park entrance at Clingman's Dome, I took out my digital camera and began to take photos of the beautiful view. The Smoky Mountains loomed on forever and the pine trees were dark against the bright blue sky. Twelve other people were taking pictures of the same view, the same mountain, the same pine trees. Ultimately, I am sure, the end results will vary slightly depending on the camera settings, the angle, and all the technical stuff that can come with taking photographs but all in all there is nothing original about twelve photos taken on the same lookout mountain, of the same pines, of the same view. My photographs were no longer special; nothing unique going on here. My enthusiasm went out the window (or should I say "over the cliff"). I needed to restore my faith in myself and I needed to do it right away.... but how?
I looked around for "unique". I looked around for something different. What would no other person think about photographing? How can I make something special of this over-clicked space? There were no strange rock formations. There were no interesting patterns in the gravel or in the woods. There were no flowers growing in odd places. I didn't want to photograph the parking lot. I didn't want to take photos of the out houses, that was for certain. Where was my stroke of genius? Where was that creative spark?
It never came. I left that mountain top underwhelmed but I did realize one thing. Just looking through the lens and snapping a picture does not compare to seeing the beauty through that same lens. Some people never get to travel and never get to stand at the top of a mountain. While my photograph was not unique nor was it award-winning, it was special. It was my experience after all that matters most.