The Purple Cow

how many different ways can you write about the same destination, year after year?  the reason a destination is originally written about is because there is something inherently unique about the place.  there are aspects to it that you cannot find anywhere else.  isn’t there the hope then that nothing changes?

the same could be said of travel photography.  how many different ways can you photograph the same place?

author Seth Godin speaks to a concept he calls the Purple Cow.  the idea of the Purple Cow being that you stand out from the crowd, as I’m sure if you were passing a herd of cows and you saw a purple one you would stop to stare at it.

purple cow

© Richard Lipscombe

after a while then, could you not argue that everything then becomes a purple cow?  at that point, you would have to switch to a different color cow.  then you eventually run out of colors of the rainbow.  is the next step to change the cow?  progress needs to happen for a reason and not simply just for the sake of calling it progress.

for the travel industry, is there a solution to this Purple Cow theory?  what is the abundance of travel photography available doing to the industry?  what happens when photographs are no longer even representing anything remotely close to a cow?  travelers will arrive at a destination so confused because the images projected of that particular place no longer represent what it actually is and so they could think that they have arrived in the wrong place (or think they are having a prank pulled on them by their tour operator).

below are different examples of photographs of the exact same geographical location: the Cliffs of Moher, located in County Clare, Ireland.

Cliffs - 1hd Wallpapers Cliffs of Moher at sunset - Ireland Cliffs - Cycle Cliffs - Emerald-Vision 2 Cliffs - Emerald-Vision Cliffs - Harbour Sunset Farm Cliffs - Cliffs - My Postpartum Voice Cliffs - Sustainable Cliffs - Themes Cliffs - Upper Crust India Cliffs -

© All kindly borrowed from the Internet

granted, I know some of the differences in these photographs are due to the time of day and weather factors.  but how can the Cliffs be expected to manage the expectations of future tourists when its representation of itself is so varied.  this is something that a destination does have to manage, especially in today’s economy when travelers are giving famous tourist attractions 1 star reviews on popular websites like TripAdvisor.

does the addition of hundreds of different filters now available to the mass audience to add to their photos count as the Purple Cow?  if you say yes, then at what point is it not even a Purple Cow anymore?

I am still on the fence about this one and would be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.  what do you think, are photography filters friend or foe?


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