Lembert Dome, Yosemite
I used to Photograph By Wandering Around (PBWA). Fred Picker called it “cruisin’ for snaps.” Happy accidents put us in the right place at the right time to make nice photographs. The trouble with that method of photography is that we spent much more time driving around than photographing. That said, this tactic works well when you are in search of a single image and have a lot of time.
The opposite of cruisin’ for snaps is what I would call photography by appointment or less charitably, trophy hunting. The quest is to duplicate a single image made by another photographer. Photographers find a photograph they wish to duplicate and research locations on the web using Google Maps to pinpoint the location. A further refinement uses various mobile apps to determine the “best” time to duplicate the photograph they found on the web. (See why it can be called trophy hunting?) The joy of discovery has been reduced to scheduling an appointment for a single image. With multiple locations, the journey becomes a photographic scavenger hunt. While it is exactly the opposite of the randomness of cruisin’ for snaps, it remains a quest for the single image.
We cruised and hunted for over a decade until we decided if we drove less and photographed more, we would probably get better images. We stopped cruising and established a base camp and began to photograph in one small area. The number and quality of photographs increased. We quickly blew by the obvious images and were able to get to the essence of the places we photographed. Single images became groups of images with a theme and we moved from single images to stories about the places we photographed.