The first exposure I ever had to the French phrase, deja vu, was when Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young released their 1970 smash hit album entitled Deja Vu. Wanting to know what it meant, I looked it up. Who knew then that some four decades later I'd be writing a photo article about a play on words of that very title. Deja vu - as the song lyrics go - "we have all been here before." I take liberty and present you the photographic version: Deja View - "we should all go back again." If you just sang this to the melody of the CSN&Y song, good for you! If you're reading this wondering what the heck I'm talking about, you're too young but stay with me and you'll learn some good photo tips.
As a leader of nature photo tours, there's a statement I hear all too often. To be blunt, hearing it just once is too often. It goes something like this: "Hi Russ, my name is so and so and I'd like to go on one of your nature tours. I've been to location so and so / so and so / so and so / and I see these are the places to where you lead your tours. In that I've been to these places once before I don't have any reason to return - I've already photographed them. Do you go anywhere I haven't been?"
To not bore you with rhetoric, the point I want to present is while it's true that Photographer A may have been to any given location once before, what was the weather like? How was the light, what time of year was the visit made, how were the conditions, were the animals active, did the photographer look beyond the obvious? Did the photographer notice what was going on behind him, did she photograph more than just the trophy shot, are the pictures the standard cliche or was more done to capture the essence of the location? I could continue on and on but I'm sure you get the point. To me, if you've been to a given location, that's all the more reason to go back to look past the obvious and capture all the images you missed the first time.
Here's the bottom line - I revisit many of the same locations year after year. To the skeptics I pose the following - why is it that each time I go back I take more images than in the previous year? The answer is easy - I look at the place differently - I use my telephoto eyes - I use my wide angle eyes - I look beyond the obvious - I enjoy the nuances in the light - I photograph the intimate landscape rather than the big picture - I'm in a different mood so I see different things. No matter how many times one visits a given location, there's always something new and different to photograph.
To the skeptics, I grant you the fact that going to a new location is exciting and gets the adrenaline pumping. To this end, I encourage you to make excursions to new places. But if it's truly about the photography, hands down, revisiting a location is where it's at. The stress of not knowing what to expect is removed. Being able to return to an old friend provides a comfort level. Knowing that in the back of your mind you didn't capture a specific image on the first trip and that you can now obtain it is gratifying. I offer this thought and I'll let you make the connection: Do you have a favorite restaurant? Have you gone back to it? Have you ever ordered the same meal because it was so good you had to have it again...........?
Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours.