We all know the feeling - camera bag is packed, batteries are all charged and we are
ready to set the world alight with a new batch of images.
Then we hesitate, we ponder, we sit in our chair scanning the memory banks looking
for clues as to where exactly we are going to go to take these shots.
We are not on vacation, it isn't 4th of July and no one has a birthday.
We have the equipment and the motivation but the location and subject are eluding
us. We make up excuses in our head as to why we can't travel that far today or the
light won't be right for the lake/shore. We have decided to take our camera out on a
whim, with no ready made scenarios, and now we are struggling to actually think of
somewhere to go and something to photograph.
Well I have a solution for those situations, one that will have you looking forward
to every trip and will turn you into a creative hunter eager to spot something new.
No traveling involved and no special occasion needed. Where is this wondrous place full of images just waiting to be grabbed? Well it's right on your doorstep, it's under your feet, it's within a stone's
throw away from you, its at the end of your block, it's in your back yard.
You pick your location - a hanging basket, a flower bed, a short stretch of river
bank, a grass verge or even that pile of rubble at the back of the garden.
That will be your studio for the next week, two weeks, 6 months.
You will return to it whenever you want, photograph everything that moves and grows
there, and you will be strict, not being tempted to include photographs taken even
just one yard outside of its boundary.
My "studio" for the last couple of months has been a 100 yard stretch of what at
first appears to be a wasteland (it could just have easily been 20 yards of footpath
or 5 yards of flower bed). At first glance there did not appear to be much there
photographically, but on closer inspection my "studio" contains enough material to
satisfy any photographer.
Flowers, trees, seedlings, flies, bees, spiders, butterflies, all manner of insects,
bugs and beetles. I called it my 100 yards of natural history.
To begin with everything was new and a fresh opportunity for an image. As the days
progressed and after several trips I had photographed the obvious - the small purple
flower 10 yards to the left, the gorse bush to the right, the daisy patch 5 yards
Then suddenly I found myself looking into the gorse bush for signs of life, spiders,
bugs, resting dragonflies etc. Revisiting the small purple flower to see what insect
was feeding from it, catching sight of a spider wrapping its meal within its' web.
It's a snowball effect, the more you see the more you learn to see.
You start to recognize plants and insects - even learning a few names along the way.
What at first was dramatic, such as that colorful dragonfly you had never seen
before and which now seems so prolific, suddenly becomes ordinary. You search out
new things to photograph, insects you haven't seen, flowers you haven't noticed, and
the excitement, how do I describe the excitement you feel when you spot something
for the first time within your (by now familiar) "studio".
I have been in my "studio" for over two months and day after day I spot things for
the first time, things that have just moved into the area, have just poked their
first leaves through the earth or things I have just not noticed.
I no longer have days where I sit in my chair trying to think of where to go - I
already know, and my "studio", which up to date has been an autumn/winter studio,
will next year become a spring/summer studio with all the new opportunities that
Try it. Find your own studio - wherever or whatever that may be, as plain and
uninspiring as it may appear initially. Extract from it as much as you can
photographically and when you think you are done - look again.
I think you will be surprised as to what you can gain. No traveling... no special