11 Nov

Forgotten Places

I’m not a big fan of shooting icons, those stand-up pretty spots that we have seen photographed time and time again. Personally, I like to have a little elbow room when making photos, both in a literal and figurative sense. Icons are often crammed with other shooters, and even when they are not, you have to elbow your way through the thousands of photos of the place that have been made before.

Whenever I can, I like to get off the beaten path, and to find the places unknown or forgotten by others. When alone in such places, I feel free to explore my personal vision, unfettered by the unrelenting crush of photographic history. The connection with my subject is more personal, and more intense. It is in the forgotten places that I feel that perhaps I am creating art, and not just mechanically pressing the shutter button.

There’s nothing wrong with shooting icons. They are beautiful places that will continue to inspire all of us for ages to come. But it is in the hidden places that you will hear your creative voice loudest. It is the forgotten places that will become your places, if you take the time to find them.

"Forgotten Places" - Zion National Park, Utah

"Forgotten Places" - Zion National Park, Utah

Technical details: Canon 5D Mark II camera, 14-24mm lens (@16mm), ISO 200, f/14, 1 second. 

Ian PlantAbout Ian Plant (414 Posts)

World-renowned professional photographer, writer, and adventurer Ian Plant is a frequent contributor to and blogger for Outdoor Photographer Magazine, a Contributing Editor to Popular Photography Magazine, a monthly columnist for Landscape Photography Magazine, and a Tamron Image Master. Ian is also the author of numerous books and instructional videos. Ian leads photography workshops and tours around the world to help beginner and advanced photographers explore and expand their personal vision.


  • Could not agree more on that Ian!
    But when i was there yesterday evening the sun disappeared in the clouds. No glow at al.
    See you!

  • Thank you for sharing what I have believed for over 25 years. Anyone can take the same postcard image everyone else has taken. I too prefer to see it from a different perspective, often off the beaten path. Nature gives us beauty everywhere if only we have the eyes to see it.

  • One thing I love about shooting landscapes in New Zealand is that you often have places to yourself, even iconic locations are often void of other photographers. It’s one thing I often take for granted living here.

  • Speaking of iconic locations, someone sent me a link to this photo of photographers at the Maroon Bells one morning(below). You get a nice photo there, it’s just not going to be original or unique. I agree with you – much better to find your own locations that are less well known. But that’s also harder, and if a person isn’t sure of their own judgement, going to the iconic locations gives you a sure thing, maybe that’s part of the appeal.


  • Hi Ian. Agree. But there is an interesting aspect of shooting non-iconic places. Why we shot ? We shot partly for our self, but for the most part we would like to share the image with others. The problem with non iconic places is that nobody recognizes them. People are willing to observe the beauty of know places. For unknown places they will say “yea great shot”, but they will go away. Nobody would buy a landscape shot of a non-iconic place. Thus, the real challenge seems to be to get a unique shot of a well-know iconic place.

  • There was 60+ people that I counted shooting the watchman at the exact time you were shooting this, I found it funny that the light did not reach the watchman but literally right around the sky was all the colors reflected in your image. Very nice photo, its not easy setting up comps in back country.