With only a few exceptions, I never like to take the same picture twice. When people come to my portfolio I want them to feel like they are always seeing something for the first time – Indeed, perhaps my personal style is more about being different than it is about any one repeatable technique. Whatever the case, it can feel frustrating at times when you look out of your studio windows and you can’t see any unique photo opportunities waiting for you. In those cases, there’s one obvious solution – exploration.
Keeping it simple, I suggest the following. Go to Mapdevelopers.com and fiddle-around with their map tool that let’s you draw a radius around your starting point. I am setting the radius to be somewhere around 20 or so miles, because that roughly correlates to 30 minutes of driving time in most cases, depending on which roads I plan on traveling. Once your radius is set, zoom in and around the map and just try to find spots where you’ve never been. 30 minutes of travel is no big thing, and I think we can agree that amount of time can usually fit into even the busiest person’s schedule – so no excuses!
Exactly what you are looking to explore is a matter of taste, but this gives you the ability to focus on an idea without getting overwhelmed. Whether looking for water, old cities, country roads, busy streets – just scan your radius for whatever fits the bill. Last week when I did this, I was looking for old-world farms and vistas, and we found em! But I also found some other interesting things that I hadn’t known about previously. Scanning the outer edge of my radius I found a new set of waterfalls I had no idea existed. I’m already planning another 30 minute excursion for that once the seasons change a bit more.
Sometimes it’s a good thing to plan a large trip, especially if you are a landscape photographer, to go out and experience some of the world’s most amazing scenery. However, you shouldn’t feel locked-in and isolated, even in an area that you may feel you’ve previously exploited. Approaching the problem in a new way may help you discover places and things that would have fallen under the radar otherwise!
Below are some of the photos I took on my last 30 minute adventure.