I think something that has become incredibly clear over the past year is that being able to travel, even a short distance, is such a luxury. With this current lockdown, I have not even left the island I live on due to the stay-at-home restrictions. With that, comes shooting in the same locations a lot. For me, that means areas like the beaches and other coastal walks. Anyone shooting in the same location will know that you do not just want to get the same photographs each time. We want to improve upon those photographs and find new ways to take them. I have learnt a lot about this recently, and now it is time to share what I have found with you so you can get more creative with the photography locations you frequent.
Tip 1: Same subject, different picture
It is easy to think that same place will always give the same pictures, but this is not always the case. Just because I have one photo of the pier on the seafront does not mean the next time I come down I cannot get a different photo of the pier.
There are many things to consider when taking a shot of a subject. You need to think about the lighting, the composition, how close or far you are from the subject. The weather, in general, you also must consider if outside, along with other variables you cannot account for such as how many people are wandering around in the shot.
It is remarkably simple to take greatly different shots of the same subject simply by changing your perspective. Get down low for your next shot. Maybe only include part of the subject or include another subject to the scene as well such as a model. You might also try completely different styles of photography such as black & white or other effects you can achieve whilst editing it afterwards.
Some subjects, such as the pier, are large enough that it is clearer how one might get a variety of good shots of the same subject. But even with considerably smaller subjects, this is possible. Particularly if your subject is mobile and you can position it differently and in different places.
Here is a challenge for you: next time you are doing photography at a familiar location, pick a subject – whether a building, tree, or anything else – and exclusively shoot that subject. Try to be as creative as you can with the variety of different shots you take and get to know your subject intimately.
Here are some shots I took of South Parade Pier near me:
Tip 2: Document your session
Recently I picked up a GoPro and a chest strap. You might be familiar with Point of View (POV) photography videos on YouTube. They are incredibly popular and with good reason: you can learn a lot by watching someone else shoot.
Even if you do not want to share publicly what you record, reviewing what you have done whilst out on a shoot can be enlightening and, along with reviewing the pictures you took, can help you become a better photographer.
I know that since I picked up my little GoPro, I am a lot more excited to get out and shoot, even if it is the same location as I have done before. I believe that when dealing with situations like we are currently in, and only have the same areas available to us to shoot, that motivating yourself is half the battle. Introducing new elements to your photography like an action camera can get you enthused again.
And hey, you never know. Maybe if you start uploading your POV videos to YouTube you might end up being world-famous one day? It is surprisingly easy to edit POV videos so if you are looking to perhaps dip your toe into the YouTube content creator world, it is the perfect place to start as a photographer.
If you are working with models or clients, be sure to check they are happy to be filmed if you want to record your session with them. Most people would be fine with it. It will also make for even better content if you do upload it (with permission)!
Here is a recent 1 minute long POV video I put together for my Instagram page, enjoy!
Tip 3: Introduce new elements to the photo
Along similar lines to the first tip, this involves casting the subject with another subject or in a different fashion. An easy way to demonstrate what I mean would be to take a LED compact light which can produce various colours and shine it onto the subject. Assuming that the natural lighting also comes together for you, it is possible to get some remarkable effects even if the picture of the subject would otherwise be identical without the lights.
We do not all want to go shooting at night to get these colour effects, however. You can find many other ways to add new elements to what would otherwise be the same photograph. If in autumn, consider gathering some leaves which have fallen and place them around the subject. Perhaps you could get the subject wet to add to the final image?
This tip is all about setting the scene for your shot. It is possible to make otherwise unremarkable subjects look interesting with a little human intervention.
Depending on where you want to shoot, you might have to get really creative with the options and resources available to you. Just be sure that anything you do has no lasting or negative effect on your subject or the surrounding area! A tree on fire might look cool but just don’t.
It is entirely possible to build your entire photography portfolio based off one area, or even one subject. Indeed, people do! I hope you can take something away from these tips and allow me to leave you with one more: you will be able to get different pictures by looking at the subjects and area differently. Open your mind to all the possibilities and never be afraid to experiment!
If you have any advice you want to share about spicing up the same old locations and keeping your photography motivation going then please share them in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!