Episode 158: Making Great Images in Bad Locations

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One of the things I frequently recommend to students is don’t let your creativity become stale. What I mean is don’t use lame excuses like “If only I lived near Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, then I could make fantastic images!”

The thing is, if you lived near one of these remarkable places, then all you would do is take the same clichéd images we’ve all seen over and over again. A truly great photograph is taken anywhere that a skilled photographer happens to be.

Don’t be upset when I say you live in a bad location, but I have photographers frequently complain that they have nothing to photograph. It doesn’t matter if you live in Flint, Michigan, smoggy Los Angeles, California or a country town in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania as I did growing up, all making great images requires is opening your eyes. Open eyes even in the crappiest of locations leads to brilliant work and growing your skills as a photographer.

One of the biggest keys to taking great photographs anywhere is look for color in everything. Even a drab location has brilliant colors of some kind, such as neon signs, your camera will highlight these colors in low light, so shoot them at night time. Another interesting place to shoot is a local mall with varied lighting, your camera will accentuate the differences between tungsten, fluorescent sodium and metal halide light, which are invisible to our eyes.

Look for objects out of place such as an old soda can sitting in a gutter along the street that still has brilliant colors. Make photos that highlight whatever it is that catches your eye, an old tire swing still hanging in a tree, a dilapidated barn in an empty field or a rusty old car that sits in the woods. Photography is about being able to “see” it’s not about the camera. The strongest photo is one that expresses itself most clearly, often the strongest photos have the least in them.

Another thing to consider is using creative lenses to make what seems mundane more interesting. You can experiment with say a Holga “Toy” lens, or a Lensbaby lens of any time as they have selective focus  and some have tilt abilities and most all of them have plastic blades you can move in front of the lens to create interesting bokeh shapes. You could use the Funleader 18mm F/8 cap lens and see what you can make with it or break out some vintage glass with an adapter.

If you are stumped for ideas, I always suggest joining some photography groups on Facebook. I know I am not a huge fan of Facebook either but many of these photography groups will have weekly or monthly photo challenges to keep your juices flowing! Considering joining a MeetUp group or photography club in your local area. Many of these groups have what we call “photo walks”, where the members going out once a month or every couple of weeks and they pick an area or event to just walk around and shoot anything that catches your eye.

So, get in your car, drive around your area and look for things that stand out, look for details. If driving around doesn’t inspire you, go for a hike and take your camera along, there are always great images to be made in nature, especially if you have Macro capabilities.

Night time is another great option, grab your tripod and go make some long exposures, even the most boring street contains great images waiting to be made. Use a short tripod and a wide angle lens for some dramatic angles. Position along the street on a sidewalk and do long exposures of cars driving by, the taillights make for really awesome light effects, almost like the cars are moving at warp speed.

Your studio is also a great place to make images and express your creativity. I am building my studio in the second master bedroom of my house this coming week. Many photographers create their own realities in their studio, anything from miniature cities or towns to model railroads and many other ideas can help you make fantastic images and spark your creativity. Great images come from within so get our there and get those creative juices flowing.


Also be sure to join the Liam Photography Podcast Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/liamphotographypodcast/ You can reach the show by call or text @ 470-294-8191 to leave a comment or request a topic or guest for the show. Additionally you can email the show @ liam@liamphotographypodcast.com and find the show notes at http://www.liamphotographypodcast.com.

You can find my work @ https://www.liamphotography.net on and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @liamphotoatl. If you like abandoned buildings and history, you can find my project @ http://www.forgottenpiecesofgeorgia.com. and http://www.forgottenpiecesofpennsylvania.com.

Please also stop by my Youtube channels Liam Photography

Forgotten Pieces of Georgia Project

Forgotten Pieces of Pennsylvania Project

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