Why Sane People No Longer Shoot Stock Photography (at least in the Southwest)

Six Springs ago Yosemite had a particularly good Spring melt and the Waterfalls were cooking.

So, knowing that it could be a mob scene, I went for a two or three day stay. I lasted one and one-half.

I arrived in the afternoon, did some shooting and more importantly, some scouting for the following morning. I woke up early, arrived at my pre-scouted spot and set up my 4×5 and DSLR. It was dark and I was alone and optimistic that I might have the spot to myself. The sun rose, the light started to work and I began to take pictures and to accumulate a crowd. By the time the light had played out it was me and 17 other photographers all jostling for the same shot, swapping stories and generally milling about. Most had arrived long after anything that resembled very good light had long past.

That was the last time I shot in Yosemite. I’ve only shot in one other National Park in the past 6 years. I may go visit one or two less trampled ones this year. I probably won’t.

It turns out that with only 17 people crowding around me that I had comparitive solitude. On any given evening, hundreds can gather at Delicate Arch.

From an article on Tom Till as he remenises about Arches National Park then, 1974, and now.

Tom gets wistful about 1974, even if it wasn’t all that long ago. Moab was still mostly a washed-up mining town then, not yet discovered by the picture-taking masses.

Tom would make the trek to Delicate Arch at sunrise or sunset alone.

“Nobody was there, ever,” he says in amazement. “I had it all to myself. It was weird. In terms of somebody living here and shooting, it was just me.”

Now, “May, June, July, there will be 400 or 500 people out there every night,” he says. “And 10 or 15 of them will have tripods.”

Here is the link to the original Desert News pice that features Tom Till: Want perfect pictures? Better pack a tripod | Deseret News

It’s far to easy to sound wistfully grumpy about the good old days. They were good, most any scenic point, known or discovered, was your’s for the morning sunrise and sunset. It was just this sort of “I’m the only person in the world here, taking this picture” feeling that made shooting stock in the Southwest such a joy.