Photography is about creating and discovery. Both personal and worldly. There is something that we miss by only partaking in photo-tourism. You know. When you see an awesome image on Instagram and go there, setting up in the same location, during the same time of year, in the same light and usually with a similar edit. Now, I will be the first person to say that I'm guilty of doing this- or at least getting closer to it than I'd like to admit. That being said, I believe it's important to find something new to you. Something to add to the perspective of the world and spark a different conversation. In this article, I'm going to be breaking down 5 of the most photographed locations on Instagram and making an argument for places you should consider going instead. Places that are close to the original location but haven't been as deeply covered. Let's jump right in..
1. Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland
My first trip to Iceland was in late Summer of 2014 after seeing my buddy Chase Jarvis come back with some incredible photos and videos. There was barely a car on the road back then and certainly no more than 1-2 people at any given location. When I went back during the summer of 2016, I couldn't believe how much it had changed. Instead of gravel parking lots and a nice hike in the middle of nowhere, there were now restaurants and sidewalks and rope barriers-all to service and contain the thousands of daily visitors at places like Gullfoss.
That is not to say that any of the locations in south Iceland aren't worth checking out because tourists or not-they will take your breath away. However, if you are looking to get a unique location and clean shot without having to wait for the half second that there are no tourists, consider getting a 4x4 and making a trip to one of the most remote destinations in Iceland- the West Fjords. It is in this region of the country that you will find a much less frequented waterfall known as Dynjandi. It is one of the most stark and beautiful tiered waterfalls I have ever seen.
2. Central Park
There is no doubt about it, Central Park is incredible. It is one of the most captivating and immersive parks I've ever been to, but also the most visited. Everyone in the world knows it's name.
After moving to Brooklyn last year, I quickly overheard locals talking about going to another park, one that was in Brooklyn and was designed by the same architects; Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. That park is named Prospect Park. It is said that when designing Central Park the architects were somewhat restricted by the requests of the planners. Prospect Park was their muse-the park that allowed them to more freely design a space in line with their personal vision. A walk through Prospect Park is not too dissimilar from a refined collection of artwork. Each piece balancing the other out for the perfect combination of open space and unique features.
3. Moraine Lake - Banff National Park, Canada
Canada's first national park is rich with photographic potential, but over the last 4 years the amount of times that I have seen this image on a feature page I cannot count. I mean, look at the place. Moraine Lake is fed by glacial run off which makes the water a lovely emerald color that is hard to find anywhere else. It's Instagram gold.
If you want to try to mix it up, head over to Peyto Lake or Lake Minnewanka. You can still find gorgeous colors in the water and perspectives that are less photographed and will help your feed stand out a bit from the many other photographers that visit there each year.
4. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
The winding curve of water mixed with striations of silt at Horseshoe Bend is one of the most unique perspectives of the outdoors you can find in the United States.
The giant red cliffs that tower above make the perfect back drop for a Pendleton blanket blowing in the wind behind a scantily clad 20-something laughing with their partner.
Instead of twisting your wide angle on at this popular spot, try finding your way down to the river or even getting on it via a rafting tour. The desert is a big place so if you're willing to put in the steps, you can find something just as great that has yet to be photographed.
5. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
I was sitting in a bar in Interlaken, Switzerland around midnight as a local sat next to me and described Lauterbrunnen. It was an area surrounded by mountains with waterfalls pouring out over the cliff faces. It was rumored to be the inspiration for JRR Tolkien's geography in Lord of the Rings. Although it used to be a very quiet place, tourism has been on the rise and it is slowly becoming a well known destination for adventure athletes.
The thing is, you're so close to so many amazing sights, it just takes a little bit of a walk to get there (and maybe a gondola ride or two). If you travel about 45 minutes past Lauterbrunnen, you can witness the beauty that is Gimmelwald, a small village nestled on a cliff that will leave you not only with unique photos, but new friends as well. One of the coolest hostels in the world, Gimmelwald Hostel, is right on the edge of town.
This is not an exhaustive list, so feel free to add to it in the comments below and share your recommendations. Also, I want to make it a point that the locations listed are all worth witnessing, but if your goal is to be unique and push the needle of photography forward, you might want to consider other locations or even just a wildly different approach that brings interest and personality beyond what has already been done. Thanks for reading and make sure to come back and visit again next Monday! Happy shooting!