We’re only here for a short while. And we all want to spend our time wisely. So the question we should all ask ourselves is this:
Q. do we cover as many places as we can, or do we focus our efforts on a few places and try to get to know them as best as we can?
This essentially boils down to these two options:
Spread ourselves thinly and visit as many different locations as we can, and hope that the work we create during our brief time there will have depth to it.
Concentrate ourselves to a few locations and focus on trying to build up a portfolio of work over a number of years of these places. The sacrifice is that you see a lot less of the world than you would if you chose option 1.
If there is an answer to this, then it’s maybe a bit of both options above. And something else: your drive. Although we may try to be logical and objective about what we should do, the truth is, we should respond to where we want to go from an emotional level. If you feel a pull to go back to a certain place again and again, then you should entertain it. Don’t thrown out a location simply because you’ve been only once. Repeat visits will give depth to your work and help you gain an understanding of a place that isn’t possible in one visit.
It really depends what kind of photographer you are. If self-development isn’t that important to you and you just enjoy being there and visiting / touring the world, then I think repeat visits aren’t of much interest for you. But if you are, like me, someone who wants to try to create work that is beyond the obvious, that is less derivative, then you have to find a few places that you can concentrate on and use as ongoing-projects.
I have learned so much from repeating places. I have also seen these places define my style. That’s something that I think is often overlooked: the kinds of landscapes you choose to photograph contribute to your style. Similarly, if you are going to certain kinds of landscapes, you should, after a while, see relationships between them. Common themes or aspects to them that will help you find out who you are as a photographer.
I’m not so interested in capturing ‘nuggets’ of work. Having 2 nice photos from one place, and 30 average shots doesn’t work for me. I’ve learned that it’s very hard to create outstanding work of a landscape in one shoot, one visit. A ten day trip to a location out of an entire lifetime is but a fleeting view of a place. Not a problem if you just enjoyed your time there and didn’t have any aspirations to create great work, but if you do, then you have to make that location a feature of your photographic-life and keep returning. It’s the only way to delve deeper, and to build up a strong set of images. That’s what I do.