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Photographing in Your Own Backyard

Even though I live just outside of Boston and have worked downtown for years, I have relatively few photos from the city. I don’t think I’m alone in this, either; on our workshops we find that many people tend to take more photos when they are on “photo trips” than they would at home. In other words, I don’t often shoot in “my own backyard,” and this needs to change.

For me, it comes down to inspiration. No matter how many times I go to Yosemite National Park, everything is new and unique. Even after I’ve been there 10 times there will still be so much to see; so much changes from year to year. But when I see the same city five days a week, year after year, it all starts to become boring and uninteresting to me (at least to photograph). I find that even when I do walk around with my camera, I find little that inspires me.

The other reason is that when we’re at home we have other things that distract us from focusing on photography. Whether it’s work, family, friends, etc., these are things that may prevent us from taking full photographic advantage of what we have around us. Of course we all have to honor our responsibilities, and sometimes it’s impossible to get away for any amount of time. However, if growing as an artist is important to you, then you should carve out some amount of time that can be dedicated to your craft.

Since we all can’t travel for the entire year taking photos all over the world, we are going to have to make do with what’s local for at least some of our photos. Since we all are striving to grow as photographers and one of the best ways to grow is to take more photos, what can we do?

I can’t answer for anyone but myself, but for me this year I’m going to make it a point to go into Boston at least once a month with some sort of photographic goal in mind. I think setting goals is a great way to push ourselves to go out and make better photos.

There is almost no limit to the goals you can set. Personally, I’m going to strive to do things that are new or different for me. Here are some goal ideas I am going to try to do:

  • Use only a 24mm lens and shoot only things that are moving.
  • Use the 70-200mm and only shoot at 200mm, f/2.8 for the entire day.
  • Spend an entire day only shooting buildings, or
  • Spend an entire day only shooting people.

If you don’t have a ton of lenses, another cool thing you can do is hop over to LensRentals.com and get something that you would otherwise never buy and use it for the weekend. This is a cool way not only to get some great photos but also to let you use something that you might otherwise never have thought about.

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