Thursday, July 22, 2010

Photographing Where You Live

BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS

You know you've been there. You picked up the latest issue of a photography magazine and an entire article was dedicated to some remote, fascinating location. You soon find yourself either (a) planning your next trip or (b) feeling really down-in-the-dumps because you "never go anywhere".

Looking at the same scenery day after day, we become visually jaded. The beauty of the world around us fades and is replaced by seemingly impossible-to-reach expanses of ocean or glorious mountain heights. So how can we re-fire our love for the landscape of home? And how can we best display it to those who've perhaps never been here?

Circle B Reserve, Lake Hancock, Winter Haven, Florida
Tree Shapes

1. Remember

In the second question, you find the first key. Remember that others have never been there. Where you live is just as unique to other people as their location is to you. With that thought in mind, ask yourself what in your area makes it stand out. It could be architecture, natural geology, or a particular historical event. Do some research. Pick a location, and go there.

2. Angle

When you visit, take photos from many spots. Do both close-ups and wide-angles. Include people in some and exclude people in others. Look for high camera angles or low camera angles. Different points of view seen together will in the end give your viewer a better feel for that location. And don't be afraid to imitate a well-known photograph for yourself.

Oak Hammock
Oak Hammock

3. Seasons

If your area is seasonal, plan out how you can over the course of time feature the seasons. I know here in Central Florida this is often a bigger challenge, especially in the winter months. Therefore, I look for decoration displays indicative of an upcoming holiday. I also pay attention to the more subtle changes in nature, the bare branches of certain trees or the early flush of spring. There is something special to where you live, you have only to step back and see it.

4. Time of Day

The lighting at certain times of day can be a definitive factor. The sunset on canyon walls adds additional colors to the stones. The placement of a statue at noontime might create particular patterns of light between buildings. Be sure to use the shadows to your advantage. Shadows can indicate distance or height, or even exaggerate it.

Fallen Oaks
Fallen Oaks

5. Information


Lastly, include location information in an online gallery, especially if there is history involved. This will give a better foundation for your photographs. However, keep the words short. Learn how to paraphrase or refer to a link when a longer explanation is needed. Too many words can be distracting and cause people to lose interest.

I am always trying to display to others how beautiful it is here. Most often, people think of Florida as sand, beaches, and sea shells. Yet for me, as a resident of this county from birth, Florida is slash pines, live oaks, and sabal palmettoes. It is ponds, whose dark waters provide sustenance to multiple species of herons, egrets, ibis, or storks, and of course, the ever present alligator. I desire to present the beauty of this place to others, so that even if they never have an opportunity to visit here in person, through my photographs they might feel like they did.

*If you have an online gallery, that displays your area, leave a link in the comments section. I am always willing to travel to your locale via the internet.

Sabal Palms
Sabal Palms

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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