Are you one of those folks who wait to travel to an exotic destination to make photographs? Is your camera nicely packed or gathering dust until you are traveling or on an assignment because you don’t have enough inspiration or subjects? If you are one such photographer, then you are actually missing countless photography opportunities right in front of you. No matter what level of skill and experience you have, the more you take your camera out and make photos, the better you get.
Gone are the days when you made images on film, and there was a cost involved in acquiring and processing rolls of films. Now, thanks to the digital cameras, you can take as many photos you want and keep on learning and improving every day.
So there’s no reason to wait until you are traveling to an exotic location to make images. Look around you, and you will find countless opportunities to make beautiful images, test your technical skills and take your game to the next level.
Whether you live in a developing city like Gurgaon (where I live), or in a picturesque mountain town, there are photographs to be made and shared. So the question is, how do you find great photo opportunities when you think you live in a boring location?
The first step is to believe there are beautiful photographs around you that you must capture. It doesn’t matter what your preferred genre of photography is. Whether you enjoy wildlife, landscape, people or street photography, there are photographs to be made right near your home, in your own city.
Advantages of photographing your city and its surroundings
The advantages of photographing your city and its surroundings include:
- You get to practice photography regularly and dissect your photographs technically and artistically to take better photos next time
- You don’t have to travel a lot. You can always take pictures close to your home
- Unlike when traveling to an exotic, faraway location where you may get only a short window to get the shot, closer to home you can always revisit the place and get the shots you may have missed the first time
- If you are not happy with some of the photos, you can always go again and click, and you can also plan the shots in a better way, especially in cases like the city skyline, or sunsets
So here are a few pointers for you to find great photo opportunities right where you live. In this post, I am sharing some images I made in Gurgaon – a city I now call home.
Go for skyline and redefine it
Every city has its own iconic skyline that people can identify it with. However, that should not restrict you from trying to redefine or interpret it in your way. You can always go for a different shot; especially if the city is still developing. Capturing it as it develops creates an everlasting record of the change the city went through as it grew.
Even the most mundane of skylines can give a dramatic effect when you combine it with beautiful clouds or a sunset. Because you know the best vantage points from your previous experiences in your city, you can be well prepared and reach the spot in time to get the shot you have always wanted to take.
Photograph seasonal natural phenomenon like blooming of trees
Many cities in Japan are known for the Sakura or Cherry Blossom festivals. Think about what the equivalent may be in your city. Every change of season brings a visual spectacle that is a hallmark of that season. In Gurgaon and most of North India, April to June are months of Golden Shower. The hotter the weather, the more beautiful flowers of Indian laburnum trees you find. Make a point to find out when the local trees in your area are in bloom, so you are prepared to take their pictures. An advantage of this is you can go over an extended period and click pictures of the same tree in various stages of bloom, including being barren in autumn. If you have these trees growing close to local landmarks, then your pictures may be easily identified with your city.
Local festivals and fairs
Local festivals & fairs are a great way to photograph your local community and happenings around you. Festivals and fairs are excellent opportunities to document the vibrancy and bonhomie of your city and how people connect – more so when a festival is a community event. “Lohri” is one such festival celebrated on 13th of January every year. Here, they light large communal bonfires in various housing communities, and people walk around the fire singing songs and celebrating. Find out what festivals your city celebrates. It could be as big as Christmas or something that could be very local, like a fair. Be there and make images to your heart’s desire.
Night photography in your city
A big city is no place for star trails as light pollution may be too much. However, there are other night photography opportunities in abundance. All you need is a good vantage point, your DSLR and a sturdy tripod. Any high-rise with a safe observation area or a balcony can become your vantage point to capture the light trails of vehicles down below.
Look for exciting locations like a curve in the local metro train tracks and wait for the train to come along. You can also click interesting images while incorporating the moon against your city skyline. The photo below of Super blood moon was deliberately clicked with part of it hiding behind the building to give an idea of the size of the moon compared to a normal one you see in the picture with the power towers.
Night photography is also a great time to go abstract with some images of your city. While there are no creative limits to what you can do when trying to create a work of abstract photography, it is always a good idea to never overdo it, especially when you are beginning. A creative idea you can try is to move to manual focus and deliberately click out of focus images that render the distant lights with a bokeh-like effect. Use a tripod or keep your camera on a sturdy surface. Also, use a time release button or remote to click images to keep your images sharp.
Be observant of your surroundings
One of the keys to photography is being observant of your surroundings. Even when you are on your apartment balcony or in your backyard, there are enough photography opportunities available to you. If you live in a highrise, look down. You may get an interesting frame like the photo below of the two kids carrying similar umbrellas on the sidewalk. Or perhaps, the cars passing below under the trees that look like a beast under the canopy of the rainforest.
As you can see, any place can be a good location for making photographs. Don’t miss any opportunity to take photos as it helps in honing your skills both technically and artistically. Most of all, photographing your own city helps you learn much faster. You have an opportunity to click images in various seasons, in many light situations and go back as you need.
Now it is your turn, do share where you live and your favorite image that you made in your own city.