Oftentimes when traveling to a photography destinations, I have a pretty good idea of the photographs that I will be trying to get. Whether it’s an iconic natural formation, such as Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, or a particular event or classic scene, it’s always good to come home with your own version of those sought-after photographs.

While theses photographs are great, it can be easy to have blinders on to everything else. Just because you are in a National park to photograph a handful of major landmarks does not mean that there is nothing else in the park worth photographing! Call me a non-conformist, but I sometimes prefer the non-traditional scenes to the ones that have already been photographed thousands of times by other photographers. To get the “perfect” shot, you stand in the same spot and point your camera at the same thing that everyone knows about, and to clarify, I’m not against that at all! I just know that there are other beautiful things to see and photograph, and they oftentimes get overlooked.

Before writing this post, I had this same conversation with my friend (and photographer) Jeff Yen. He summarized my entire point with one sentence:

Don’t ignore the ordinary in search of the extraordinary.

So get your classic photograph, and then step aside. Explore your surroundings and find other angles, or other subjects altogether. Don’t pass by something beautiful because it’s not the most beautiful thing in the park. Light, atmosphere, and the vision and skill of a photographer can go a long ways in making an extraordinary photograph, even if it’s far from the main attractions and iconic landmarks.