A different way of looking
Many photographers find huge amount of influence on social media. Thousands of photographs are available at our fingertips every minute of the day. We follow the most influential photographers, whose work we admire, and we are able to easily analyse which images get the best response from social media. Many photographers, to get an instant gratification in form of likes, followers and comments on Instagram will replicate the work of others. I am 100% guilty of looking at what other people photographed in certain location before I go there. I even let myself be influenced to the point that I would visit locations because I have seen another photographers work from that place. Is this a bad thing?
Many people would say - yes of course, you should never be following social media trends if you want to be a successful photographer. And I agree with this to a certain point, but... I think social media platform such as Instagram are an amazing tool, photographers are able to connect with each other easier than ever, target chosen audience and easily inform their followers of events. It surely has inspired many people to try photography and be more creative. As much as I think professional photographers shouldn't follow Instagram trends, I can't blame hobbyists who are able to get instant gratification from posting an image that people will like. Many Instagrammers have one goal in mind: have the greatest number of followers - this brings them many benefits in forms of all kinds of sponsorship, and the easiest way to get to the top is to replicate what's already been done. I personally use Instagram as a motivation tool, it's like a game - I know I need to post images, because consistency is key. This forces me to go out more often and take more images. For me - this is a good thing. I also use Instagram to search for locations and see what's been done there before, this can be a good or a bad thing. It gives me an idea of equipment I need to bring, but it also influences me visually and one of two things usually happens: I either don't want to take photos because they'll be copies of what's on Instagram - or I do take images that I'm not entirely happy about, because at the back of my mind, I know it was done before. One way I work around this is I'm trying to scout the location to find compositions I haven't seen before that I'm happy with. Everyone uses Instagram in different ways, and I believe the Instagram photography community can be an amazing thing, even if people are just following trends, because they learn from it, and hobbyists who just copy others work can eventually gain enough knowledge to start producing their own original work.
I have recently decided to not do any kind of research and force myself to find compositions and locations without any influence, I'm trying to photograph what I find beautiful, instead of what other people have already decided was beautiful. I'm focusing more on how nature makes me feel and try to convey those feelings into photographs. My goal is to experience, appreciate and really take it all in, and then capture that.