Monday, July 1, 2013
As a photographer, it's tempting to think that you have to travel away from home to find compelling images. And if you live in the midwest like I do, you probably find yourself dreaming of the next chance you have to shoot the Rocky Mountains, fall color in New England, or the coast of Oregon. It can be very difficult to get motivated to get up for a sunrise shoot close to home or to explore areas within an hour or so from home to find photogenic locations.
If you want to keep your skills fresh it's important to keep shooting regularly. And most of us have a day job, so frequent trips to photography hot spots are out of the question. So what's a dedicated photographer to do? The answer is to shoot locally and shoot often.
I live in the Toledo area, and I would be stunned if anyone lists northwest Ohio in their top 10 dream locations to shoot. It's been a challenge for me to extend my vision and find images near my home. But it's been worthwhile. I've gotten to know my home region better. I've kept my skills sharper so when I am in one of my dream locations I don't have to think about how to operate my camera equipment. It's also allowed me to expand the style of images I shoot from the traditional landscape scenic to urban images and still life images.
When I think about photographing near home, I head out with either a location in mind that I've pictured under certain circumstances - ie, a bridge at sunrise, a forest after a light snow, or I have a concept in mind but need to find the location. The image above was the result of a short exploratory drive. I had intended to find barns with rows of crops serving as leading lines. I had pictured rows of corn that weren't so tall and grown that you could still see the dirt in between. It's a seasonal event that I've notice occurs in late June to early July - the common saying being that corn should be "knee high by the 4th of July." Too tall and it's just a sea of green. I've been successful in the past finding this situation but not on this day. It can be amazingly difficult to find a decent looking barn that lines up right with the crop rows and doesn't have a bunch a junk parked around it. I found plenty of rows of corn, but none with an photogenic barn. However, this year the field in front of this barn hadn't been planted and was instead filled with wildflowers. Paydirt!
Everyplace has something worth photographing under the right conditions. If you can see these images around your own home you will be more successful on those dream trips - and in the meantime add some great images to your portfolio.