"X" Marks the Spot – Finding Backyard Photo Treasures

“X” Marks the Spot – Finding Backyard Photo Treasures

backyard-photography.jpgIn this post Bobby R. Strange shares some tips on finding photographic gems in your own backyard.
We’ve all heard stories of grand treasures being found by following the “X” on the treasure map, but how far do we have to travel from the comfort of our homes to uncover the treasure that is a wonderful photo opportunity?  100 miles?  1000 miles?  Try 50 feet!  I know what you’re thinking…50 feet from where my favorite slippers are isn’t exactly an exotic locale.  But it can be just as rewarding!
There are many photo “treasures” to be found in our own backyards if we just take the time to explore them.  I think many times it’s just a matter of not seeing the trees for the forest (yes, you heard me right).  We walk outside and take in the whole scene without seeing what makes up our own little part of the world.  Other times it may be that we just don’t think there are little hidden gems right outside our bedroom windows.

So how do we find these treasures?  Here are a few tips that helped me when I first started exploring my yard…

  1. Probably the biggest tip that’s helped me is to just stop and take a look around. “Smell the roses”, so to speak. Just because you’ve been outside doesn’t mean you’ve noticed everything that’s there.  Which brings us to tip #2…
  2. Pick a spot in your yard and look at everything within arms reach. Find something interesting? That’s your “X”…take a picture of it!  You’ll be amazed at what you start to see if you just pick a spot and look around that one area.
  3. Try to see your yard through a child’s eyes.  Kids don’t analyze why they want to build that sand castle.  They just do it because it’s fun and interesting to them.
  4. Think small.  Little things like a rusty door hinge, a lady bug on a leaf, or even an outdoor water faucet can make wonderful images. And all three of these things can be found outside most houses.
  5. When you find your “X”, shoot it from different angles. Walk all the way around it if you can and see it from all sides. One subject can sometimes give you more than one great image.
  6. And if you live in a city and don’t have any kind of yard?  Go to the park.  Most cities have at least a small park located near residential areas.
    See, you don’t need an eye patch or a parrot on your shoulder in order to find those photo treasures (although they may make the hunt more fun!).  All you really need is a willingness to stop and take a look around at the things you overlook every day.  There are many little treasure maps to explore right outside your door.  In fact, I recently “set sail” on my own backyard photo treasure hunting expedition and discovered the “treasures” you see below.  So grab your camera, throw on your pirates cap (optional), and embark on your next great adventure…in your own backyard.

This post was contributed by Bobby R. Strange – see more of their work at their gallery here.

Read more from our category

Guest Contributor This post was written by a guest contributor to dPS.
Please see their details in the post above.

Become a Contributor: Check out Write for DPS page for details about how YOU can share your photography tips with the DPS community.

Some Older Comments

  • Albert Hebert September 7, 2009 12:08 am

    How do I submit photos- for esxample Backyard Photos"???????????????????

    Thank you
    Al Hebert

  • Sheeba September 6, 2009 01:38 am

    .. how do I submit my Back Yard photo ?

  • James Dolan September 4, 2009 09:00 am

    Thanks alot for the tips. This has given me alot of things to think about :) Thanks again DPS!

  • Jill September 2, 2009 03:30 pm

    This little spider is living outside my backdoor in some "Flower for an Hour" plants...you know they say you are never more than 6 feet from a spider....creepy!

  • Willis DeYoung September 2, 2009 04:11 am


  • dee August 31, 2009 08:21 am

    I am new at this, but here is a link to my photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/29788902@N02/3871660477/

  • Arnw August 30, 2009 11:02 am

    I have a large backyard :), so a walk in the back 40 resulted in:
    Canada Darner Dragonfly - http://myrabo.com/4images/details.php?image_id=378
    Ruby (or whitefaced) Meadowhawk - http://myrabo.com/4images/details.php?image_id=379
    Orange Sulfur (butterfly) - http://myrabo.com/4images/details.php?image_id=377


  • amir paz August 30, 2009 01:34 am

    I love to photograph flowers, so the park near my house and the garden is a great photo opportunity

    i try to use compostion of the photos to make them interesting

    here is one of my first photographs i ever took in the garden just downstairs from my house



    the first is one of my all time favorite pictures of flowers...


  • Cee Webb August 30, 2009 12:45 am

    I like the idea of training your eye to notice details, which leads to becoming a better photographer. But what is the purpose of having such photos, after the fact? Are you going to hunt through your "shoebox" in a few years looking for a faucet handle so you can show it to friends and family? Or are you going to wish you had more hard drive space for pictures of what the whole backyard looked like when your kids were little - the swing set, sandbox, tree house? Artsy photos are a dime a dozen, but photos of your world as you lived in it are one of a kind, and likely to be the only ones of interest to you after the years change things, as they will definitely do.

  • Eric Bouler August 29, 2009 12:07 pm

    I do this often just to test things I was thinking about. Since my hobby is plants and photos it works out great. Small things are worth remembering.

  • Mei Teng August 29, 2009 10:51 am

    You have brought up a very good point with this article. Many times, we tend to overlook photo opportunities that exist right where we live. Thanks for sharing this. I shall make it a point to go 'treasure hunting' in the backyard one of these days.

  • scott detweiler August 29, 2009 05:42 am

    When I am in the mood to take a few shots, I do what I call my "10 in 10" challenge. That is to take 10 photos within 10' of any position in my yard. You have to look up, down, and even get down on your belly to make 10 shots if the area is pretty boring. A good exercise and it has helped me see details I would normally miss. I know it has improved my photostream if anything.


  • Carri August 29, 2009 04:22 am

    An inspiring tip to look beyond the obvious and to see mundane things from a new perspective.

  • Christoph August 29, 2009 01:58 am

    And then of course there is the classic backyard! How could I forget it... even though it's not mine:

  • Christoph August 29, 2009 01:55 am

    The most important point in my opinion is to take your time. You will see nothing if you are in a hurry and have a lot of things on your mind. I'd never thought this Mantis would be waiting for me in my garden:

    And this amazing proof of the power behind life waited for me day after day until I was in the right mind to look at it on my way back form work:

  • dcclark August 29, 2009 01:28 am

    I suppose I'm lucky -- my back yard is a giant chunk of abandoned mine ruins which provide tons and tons of opportunities. But in the spirit of real "backyard" finds -- you can make your own as well! Here's one from my garden: Gnomity Gnome.

    Sometimes a fun story or an unusual viewpoint can make a big difference in the photo.

  • Ilan August 29, 2009 01:27 am

    The article touches a very interesting point.
    I never managed to take a good photo of something 'close to me', something I don't see as new or strange.
    Things around me just looks so... mundane.
    But it's an illusion. Just because we are used to our environment, doesn't mean that there are no hidden treasures around us.
    For example, a shot I took in the backyard - http://www.ilanbresler.com/2008/06/magical-tree.html
    A couple of friend of mine where enjoying the romantic setting :)