Some photography hot spots have gotten to the point of being ridiculous. I walked up to this popular arch on the California coastline an hour before sunset, and there was a line of photographers probably 50 long set up with tripods. That’s fine, everyone’s excited about the same rare feature. The sad thing is that none of them were set up to take a good shot. Whomever got there first dropped their tripod into the sand at the edge of a falling tide. By the time I arrived, the water line was a good 30 feet away. Not one person in that whole group was setup to get a great shot – as the image would very flat without a foreground. Both the rocks and waves looked great, but not from that far away.
I tried coaxing the group to move forward so that everyone could get a better shot, but a lot of people seemed more interest in staking a bad claim than getting a good shot. Eventually, the line moved up and we were able to get close shots like this with a nice foreground – though not until after the beautiful shaft of light through the keyhole was gone. It pays to work with your fellow photographers for so many reasons.
And with so many of us out there these days, it pays to be creative and find new locations. I try to avoid these sorts of crowded locations. One of the best ways to do so is to invest in your compositional skills. The better you get, the more you can work with a range of subjects and find beauty that others miss. In fact, as I was walking away I noticed an amazing cave right by this rock that not a single person was shooting. If I’d had another day, I would have shot it for sure, and probably walked away with an even more beautiful (and certainly more unique) image.