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Thread: Does where you live affect your photography?

  1. #1
    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    Does where you live affect your photography?

    I'm trying to decide if I have just become stagnant in my creativity, or if the area in which I live has been stifling me due to what I see as lack of interesting things to photograph.

    Do you think that where you live can affect your photography? In my mind, I live in a very uninteresting place photographically. Realistically, I understand that if I truly got my lazy bottom out there, I could find some interesting sites to photograph. Plus, being interested in macro photography, there is beauty in the tiny detail. Part of this stagnation is due to a bit of mental hang up, and part is that I need to reevaluate my surroundings. When you see something every day, sometimes you forget how interesting it can be.

    I see some wonderful images from those of you who live in what I consider to be interesting places. Of course, across the pond is incredibly interesting to me, and because it is so different to what I see on a daily basis, I would find myself surrounded with things to take photos of because I have not seen it. But, do you get complacent or just "burnt out" on the things around you, despite being surrounded by what others might see as a photographers paradise?

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by IShootPeople View Post
    I'm trying to decide if I have just become stagnant in my creativity, or if the area in which I live has been stifling me due to what I see as lack of interesting things to photograph.

    Do you think that where you live can affect your photography? In my mind, I live in a very uninteresting place photographically. Realistically, I understand that if I truly got my lazy bottom out there, I could find some interesting sites to photograph. Plus, being interested in macro photography, there is beauty in the tiny detail. Part of this stagnation is due to a bit of mental hang up, and part is that I need to reevaluate my surroundings. When you see something every day, sometimes you forget how interesting it can be.

    I see some wonderful images from those of you who live in what I consider to be interesting places. Of course, across the pond is incredibly interesting to me, and because it is so different to what I see on a daily basis, I would find myself surrounded with things to take photos of because I have not seen it. But, do you get complacent or just "burnt out" on the things around you, despite being surrounded by what others might see as a photographers paradise?
    Kim, you have put into words what my thoughts have been lately.


    Bruce

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    I too have been struggling with this and I live in Hawaii! It seems as if every shot has been done a million times and that there is no need to add one more

    I found this podcast and listened to it yesterday - it is titled "A Sense of Place: Finding Your Eye at Home and Abroad"

    http://craftandvision.com/podcasts/f...ounes-bounhar/

    It is an hour long but it did make me think about things a bit differently and planted the seeds for a different approach to my imagery. It also reminded me of the advantages of shooting in familiar environments such as knowing the light or the feeling of the place better than if you were just visiting.

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    Even living in an "interesting" location I find myself having a tendency to put off going out to shoot local things for the slightest reason. I think that in addition to considering local things commonplace, there is also a tendency to think that those things will always be there and you can just shoot them tomorrow. Which of course it silly considering that no two moments in time are exactly the same lighting. Every winter I vow to get out more when the alpine wildflowers are blooming and every summer something always keeps me from doing so.

    So in direct answer to the OP, while location obviously influences what subject matter one shoots, I don't think it has that much influence of one's frame of mind/attitude towards photography. Properly inspired we all find something to shoot regardless of where we are.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    Like Dan, I live in a place many people would find lots of interesting things things to photograph, from nature to man-made structures, museums, people, a UNESCO World Heritage site; the list goes on and on. Add the four seasons to the mix, one can get totally different views, depending on the time of year.

    If you asked most people that live here, they would give you an answer similar to your's. The list of why it is a boring place can go on and on.

    I think Dan is onto part of the explanation; I'm not sure if it is just laziness or just interia (i.e. we can get stuck in a rut) or perhaps there is also the issue of familiarity; we get used to seeing something (the essence of Shane's posting) and we either no longer see it as an interesting subject or perhaps we don't want to compete with the thousands of other images taken of the subject. I took a picture of Centre Block of the Canadian Parliament Buildings a few months ago; this is probably the most photographed site in Ottawa. I still get a steady stream of complements on that shot.

    Perhaps I am different, as I see a photographic opportunity at almost anywhere. I think we are often our own worst enemy here, as we make excuses for our own failings.

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    Yes, definitely... When I was in Mexico the skies were sunny and blue most all of the time, so I'm adapting to different light...

    I miss all the tropical and exotic bugs, birds and critters of Mexico. It's harder to get close to wildlife in Vancouver, but I'm learning to find new locales and beauty in wildlife that I think of as common, ie; not exotic to me but likely very intriguing to someone whose lived in tropical climes all their life...

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    I'm glad to know that I am not the only person facing the nothing to photograph blues. I'm relieved to see it can be a fairly wide spread thing.

    I do agree that inertia/boredom/etc can be the blame. I need to make a point of going out and looking at things differently, traveling outside my comfort zone and finding something that I can make interesting.

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    I serve on a local cooperative board with a commercial photographer who has lived here since the early 1960's. He has made his reputation and earns his living off landscape and nature shots of the local area. He saw two of my shots of rainclouds over the canola fields and was lamenting how he has become so jaundiced and bored after fifty years of living and shooting here that he no longer even tries to go out and shoot the local landscape. Conservatively he estimates he has shot from the same two vantage points as my shots were taken thirty thousand times each . Yet here I was with my fresh eyes shooting something new and exciting to him. And ironically; I was hungry and tired after working all day, the sky was cloudy and the light dull again for the second week in a row and almost didn't stop on my way home from work that evening. As it was I spent 45 minutes standing and waiting for a break in the clouds. I know, and this is not an attempt at being humble I just know my friends work, that if he had managed to lever himself off the chair he could have done brilliant things with this situation. And so does he.

    Where I live I dread the months from the end of October through to the middle of May. It is cold, dreary, snowy and despite my best efforts I can rarely get anything to work. Yet I know I am missing interesting things. It has just become so hard to force myself out there.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    Yep, count me in. I suspect most of us go through phases like this.

    When it happens I need to out my money where my mouth is. I keep telling myself that I need to get more project-oriented and not just go out there looking for 'things' to shoot. The problem then is that I get even more frustrated when I don't put that into action ="I'll decide on a project next week", or "I've not decided on the project yet".

    I'm convinced that taking this project approach would be the answer to much of this malaise that we're writing about. So, why the hell don't I get off my ..... and put that into action!?

    I find that when I'm on, say holiday/vacation, I'm at my most creative and productive because I'm giving myself the task of creating my photographic story of that place; i.e. a project. I just need to that for in and around where I live.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    Where I live I dread the months from the end of October through to the middle of May. It is cold, dreary, snowy and despite my best efforts I can rarely get anything to work. Yet I know I am missing interesting things. It has just become so hard to force myself out there.
    Trevor - My shooting season is a touch longer than yours; but my body has a tendency to want to go hibernate over the winter. I have tried to find inspiration; but grey overcast late fall weather doesn't do much for me, nor do the bone-chilling mid-winter days. Shooting in conditions where your hands and camera try to freeze into a solid block are not much fun either.

    On the other hand, I tend to be itching to get out on those late winter days when I actually feel like shooting again.

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    I couldn't agree more with this thread. The Sonoma County wine country with the Pacific Coast on its edge is a vacation spot for many folks but I seem to not be able to find things that I want to photograph. Instead I spend much too much time on the internet reading reviews and buying photographic equipment to sit on the shelf with all the rest of the stuff that I am not making good use of. Last week a made of list and a schedule of places that I should go and photograph and promised myself that this would be the week to get moving. I'm hoping that once I get started again my motivation will increase from the satisfaction I will get from the few really good images I hope to capture.

    John

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    Like everyone else, I sometimes see my local environment as lacking interest. However, there are ways to liven things up. One is to learn to shoot macro. There is interesting tiny stuff everywhere, and you can offset the wintertime blues by bringing home a few cut flowers to work with. Night photography is another way to get a new perspective on familiar settings. Both of these are technically complex, so just getting up to speed takes a fair amount of time (at least for me). Wilting flowers and seeds also offer a lot of interesting things to photograph in the autumn and winter, and I have recently started working on those: http://dkoretz.smugmug.com/Flowers/Wilted-flowers.
    Last edited by DanK; 5th August 2013 at 07:57 PM.

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    How true it is, for me I have travelled most of the back roads in my area. If I drive 40 minutes north of me a whole new area opens up, however it is green as this is the season of green. Me I like the fall with it's colours everywhere I go it is different and changing everyday, same for spring before it gets to green. Now the winter which most people dislike, me love it, out before the sun rises, in the woods, along stream beds, lakes both open and closed. After snow/ice storms, during snow (not ice too dangerous), I guess it is because we do not see a lots of these images and I like them.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    I have just the opposite problem! There are so many things happening and so many places to shoot; I have a hard time deciding what or where to shoot. I also don't have enough time (despite being retired) to shoot all that I want to shoot.

    This weekend, there is a Philippine Cultural Fair in the City of San Diego, a Dog Days of Summer Event in a local seaside city and several shoots with the various photo clubs with which I am affiliated... In addition to this, we have a multitude of lovely scenic vistas which are screaming to be photographed. I have not shot any local surfers but plan to. There is a hydroplane event coming later this month and a really neat airshow at the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar. I would also like to do a series for a travel magazine on the local military museums of which we have several...

    The City of San Diego has a neat website listing all of the upcoming events for which permits have been requested and granted.

    It will be about 70 degrees F. (21 C. or so) and partially sunny on the coast and a high of 82 F. (28 C. or so) and sunny as always inland. Just about perfect temperature for walk around shooting...

    This is a great place to get one's creative juices flowing...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 5th August 2013 at 09:02 PM.

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    Interesting point Kim, glad to see I'm not the only one who has such feelings. One thing I sometimes do is have a look on Flickr or other similar sites from time to time searching for local images. This can be a good source of inspiration to see the creativity displayed by other locals or visitors. This is not with the intention of copying their shots but simply to get ideas about good locations.

    Dave

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Yep, count me in. I suspect most of us go through phases like this.

    ...I'm convinced that taking this project approach would be the answer to much of this malaise that we're writing about....I find that when I'm on, say holiday/vacation, I'm at my most creative and productive because I'm giving myself the task of creating my photographic story of that place; i.e. a project. I just need to that for in and around where I live.
    Similarly, with me it's not the structure/motivation of a project, it is simply access to a camera. On holiday/vacation of course I always bring one along and take dozens of photos each day. But virtually every day as I go about workaday life, I run into situations, lighting conditions, etc. when I think to myself "I wish I had a camera". And yet, simple as it would be to keep one in the car all the time, I don't do so. Why? No explanation other than hard headed stupidity

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    I live in Oregon, which is a grand place to be if you love nature. When I moved here 12 years ago everything was new, and everywhere I looked there was something exciting to photograph. But like just about everyone who has posted so far, over time I guess I've become more jaded from seeing the same things over and over. It's pretty depressing when you decide to drive around for a day looking for good photo opportunities, and then come home empty-handed, having found nothing to inspire snapping the shutter.

    But though Donald dwells in inspiring Scotland (aren't we all enthralled by his images of the countryside?), I think he's hit the nail on the head with his thoughts about projects. For several years much of my photographic effort involved capturing images to go into a book that I was working on. But once it had been completed and published (link here, for those who may be interested in looking at the photos inside), it became more of a struggle to find interesting things to shoot around the neighborhood. Not impossible--it still is Oregon, after all. But I think an interesting project can help put a guiding rudder onto the motivational ship, no matter where you are.

  18. #18

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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    The problem is that photography is no longer a niche thing and as one realises that everything we see has been photographed a million times before by multi-millions of button pushers. The only good part of this is that by visiting photo sites I realise that others with artistic bent are still finding their way.

  19. #19
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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    I live in what my father referred to as a 'bedroom community', located about 30 miles west of Minneapolis. If I were to walk 2 blocks in any direction, I would run into a corn/soybean field. Pretty darn boring!!!

    My parents made the acquaintance of a Christian Brother from Brest, France named Pierre. He came to visit and my brother and I were tasked to be his tour guide, as we were both very knowledgeable of the sites of interest in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area. We started with a tour of Summit Ave, known for its grand 150 year old Mansions. Pierre was bored.......his run of the mill flat in Brest was easily 600 years older. We took him out to a prairie preserve to show him the flowers.......nice, but not his cup of tea. We gave up, turned around and headed home.......took the shortcut.......took a rural road......... through the corn.

    I have never seen such an excited little Frenchman!!!

  20. #20
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    Re: Does where you live affect your photography?

    Thank you for sharing... Beautiful photos in that book preview...

    Quote Originally Posted by Arlen View Post
    I live in Oregon, which is a grand place to be if you love nature. When I moved here 12 years ago everything was new, and everywhere I looked there was something exciting to photograph. But like just about everyone who has posted so far, over time I guess I've become more jaded from seeing the same things over and over. It's pretty depressing when you decide to drive around for a day looking for good photo opportunities, and then come home empty-handed, having found nothing to inspire snapping the shutter.

    But though Donald dwells in inspiring Scotland (aren't we all enthralled by his images of the countryside?), I think he's hit the nail on the head with his thoughts about projects. For several years much of my photographic effort involved capturing images to go into a book that I was working on. But once it had been completed and published (link here, for those who may be interested in looking at the photos inside), it became more of a struggle to find interesting things to shoot around the neighborhood. Not impossible--it still is Oregon, after all. But I think an interesting project can help put a guiding rudder onto the motivational ship, no matter where you are.

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