How To Give Your Photography #BucketList More Value With a Fresh Perspective

Cover photo credit: Dreamstime.

Too often we lock our young minds into a singe-shot fixation of the photo which inspired us. If we aren’t always eager to add new locations and experiences to our ever-growing bucket list of shots-to-take, we might as well be dead to the art form, but lately, I have noticed we are all shooting the exact same damn picture. From the amazing small town of Manarola in Italy, Scripps Pier in Oceanside, California, the Maple Tree in the Portland Tea Garden, Tunnel View in Yosemite, Manhattan Beach, Bixby Bridge, Bonsai Rock, Antelope Canyon, the Sand Dunes of Death Valley and Horseshoe Bend just to name a few. So how do I make my photography Bucket List mine, and not just like the next aspiring Peter Lik?

I first noticed this after walking through the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian in Las Vegas and visited the Peter Lik, William Carr, and National Geographic galleries. I certainly found myself inspired, but surprisingly saw nothing different between the two photographers shot locations. In fact, both Lik and Carr had many of the same exact same photos. Part of me chuckled to myself that maybe I should have tagged along on some amazing road trip in the EarthRoamer. Imagine the stories, experiences and learned knowledge that I would have to share!

This made me start to rethink the Bucket List I have been adding to for the past few years, as well as the reason for being an aspiring landscape fine-art photographer. If the photos (and locations) on my Bucket List are the same as bigger named photographers like Lik, Carr and Lough Jr, what value will my picture of the same place bring to the community or a potential customer’s wall? I then started to consider that maybe a photographer’s Bucket List — in specific mine — shouldn’t be about the resale value of the shot (ahem, Peter Lik) or what the other Pro’s are shooting (ahem, William Carr) but about the story and learning experience that the adventure creates and making it your own.

The Bucket List

Some of my favorite photos taken (by me) and more popular sales have not been trending shots at all, but those taken along the way to the recognizable shot location. Trips to Yosemite, San Francisco or Zion should only provide the point of entry to the photo waiting to be discovered. You betcha I am going to shoot the landmark everyone else has also taken but with their iPhone, however, I am scouting for something that isn’t already in some gallery in Las Vegas (or insert your town here) or doesn’t look like a screen-scraped copy of Peter Lik’s Instagram. I want the shot people will ask “Where was that taken?” and then they go back to chase it with the same zest that I had discovering it, yet thanking the Lik’s and Carr’s for inspiring as well as pushing me to be a more creative photographer.

I’m going to accomplish this by combining to different types of bucket lists. The first is the traditional “things to do (or photos to take) before I die or to build a portfolio” list. The second is a much more specific list of shot styles, genres or subjects that separate me from everyone else. By always keeping these two lists aware of each other I can keep my photos original, creative and fresh.

Traditional Bucket list
Fly Geyser (Black Rock Desert)
Burning Man (Black Rock Desert)
Death Valley National Park (California)
Zion National Park (Utah)
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Salk Institute of Biological Studies (San Diego)
Antelope Slot Canyon (Arizona)
The Grand Canyon (Arizona)
Bodie Ghost Town (California)
Hope Valley (California)
Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
Joshua Tree (California)
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Garden of the Gods (Colorado)
New York (City to Countryside)
East Coast Lighthouses
Colors of Guatemala (Antigua)

Make The Shot Yours. Own It With Style
Ocean Sunset with intense blues in the water
Foggy tree-lined path
Old brick building on a foggy pasture
Candid people in their emotional element
Macro (up-close) of breweries and distilleries
A lone tree in a field at with fog
Black and White portraits of clowns
Covered bridge in the countryside
Steam engine billowing smoke
A magical forest (Once Upon A Time)
A waterfall From Behind
Droplets of water on a flower petal
Street Photography (Spontaneous)
Long exposure of partly cloudy skies
Bonsai Rock after snow w/Icy water
Tornado and lightning storm
Doors (new, old, weird)

Always remember that your Bucket List should be a living, growing list of amazing places to go and new ways to look at the ordinary. Yes, look at other photographer’s Instagram, Flickr and 500px profiles for inspiration, then set out to discover them. Have an adventure, strive to see more, do more and create more stories.

Check off, add to and repeat.

Create and share your bucket list in our discussion forum.


Originally published at jMcCarthy Galleries.