A recent Lenswork podcast posed a question: when travelling to a distant place with limited time to spend there, is it better to revisit a location where we’ve already spent time or to go somewhere new and unknown?
Of course, there’s no right answer.
My preference has always been to go back, at least for the first few times, because every time I’ve gone back to the same place it has been different. Cities shift, plants grow, light and weather varies. Even trade shows don’t really repeat themselves.
More importantly, I change. If nothing else, when I go back I do it as a person who has been there before. I know more about what I’m looking for and want to accomplish, and maybe I’ve had a chance to work past the obvious. To revisit means I can take a few more risks with my seeing and my time, look for novelty and nuance that I couldn’t see the first time, or try something completely different now that the safe shots are taken care of.
I change. Perhaps I’ve had more or less sleep, a good conversation, or read a book that’s put me in a different mindset. Maybe I’m in a monochrome mood, or have been spending more time on Miksang photography, or have had one of my phases of thinking that everything I’ve done is crap. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’m having an easier time remembering Minor White’s key “don’t photograph what it is, photograph what else it is.”
The search for greener grass can be a life’s calling, but I’ve learned that I don’t need to go anywhere in particular to find it.