Tripod Holes

The photography world looks with disdain on photographers who try to recreate the work of others, preferring original subjects and compositions. There’s even a phrase used for it- “reusing tripod holes.” The most famous source of tripod holes, especially in landscape photography, is Ansel Adams. This is an especially common phrase in Yosemite Valley, where shutterbug wannabes all over the park are trying to recreate his iconic images. So consider the following quote:

Then we spent the night on Walpi Mesa, proceeded to Chinle, and had two spectacular stormy days at Canyon de Chelly. I photographed the White House Ruins from almost the identical spot and time of the O’Sullivan picture!! Can’t wait until I see what I got.

Clearly this is from a photographer looking for tripod holes. Since it’s landscape photography, it wouldn’t be a bad guess to suggest he was looking for Ansel Adams tripod holes, except that the quote calls out the name of the photographer as “O’Sullivan.” Pretty straightforward, right?

Well, it would be, until you consider the author of the quote.

Ansel Adams.

It was from a letter he wrote to Beaumont and Nancy Newhall on October 26, 1941. Creativity and a fresh perspective are always preferred. But the next time someone (perhaps your own conscience) accuses you of searching for tripod holes, don’t feel too bad. Even the great Ansel Adams, perhaps the most famous landscape photographer of all time, did it from time to time.

p.s. I came across the quote in The Grand Canyon and Southwest by Ansel Adams

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