Friday, May 21, 2010

Local photography - Explore your home area!

I live in a nice area of New York state. There are trees, hillsides, country roads, etc here. Despite that, I have never felt like it's a particularly photogenic area except for certain times of the year when the tree colors are turning or there's a nice winter storm. Consequently, I don't do much local shooting close to my house. It's certainly no Yosemite National Park here...

Unfortunately, that way of thinking shut down my drive to explore my local area more for nice shooting situations, and also stopped me from extending my definition of "local" to also include 2-3 hours from my home. Basically, I got lazy when looking for good photo ops...

Some things have been driving me to explore my local area lately (including 2-3 hours out), and I wanted to share them here in case you're also stuck in a creativity rut like this.

First, look around! Take out a map or some mapping software and explore the areas around your house on the map within a few hours drive. Landmarks, lakes, waterways, parks, bridges, beaches, coastal communities, interesting architecture, a major city, etc. Whatever your type of photography, this is probably a good place to start to get your bearings and get some initial ideas.

Second, look up local photography clubs. If you're not interested in joining one, at least take a look at their web site to see where they've taken some field trips in your area in the past or are planning others in the future. If they interest you, add them to your list of places to explore.

Third, explore the web sites of local photographers (many of whom exhibit at local craft shows are have local galleries). They photograph all over the place and you might be able to get some ideas there. Note that I'm not saying to go out and copy anyone's previous shooting. I'm suggesting this just to get an idea of nice locations to explore on your own. A perfect example of this is referred to in this post of mine about the web site of Robert Rodriguez Jr., who specializes in photography in my area.

Fourth, explore the web sites of the major photo magazines like Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, Shutterbug and others. These web sites often have galleries and forums where people discuss shooting locations and post pictures of them.

The main point: Don't get lazy like me and get into a creativity rut. Set aside the time to explore your local region and get out and shoot! The spark of seeing new things feels good!

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