When I shot a roll of film last month, I hadn’t shot film since last year.
I challenged myself to go out and not go home until I shot all 36 frames.
I walked around the neighborhood with my camera in hand “looking” for things to photograph. I’ve lived in my neighborhood for 12 years and after a while, everything looks the same and anything but interesting.
Since I had black & white film, I had to imagine what a scene in color would look like in black, white and varying shades of gray. I had to think about the way the light fell on things. Would this subject look better in color or best in black & white?
As I wandered around the neighborhood, I found myself stopping in at an empty laundromat. Laundromats are one of my favorite places to take photos.
Some of the dryer doors were left open while others were closed. All the washer lids were open waiting to be filled with dirty clothes. Random books were left above the washers waiting to be picked up and read. A vending machine was near the entryway for the person who forgot to bring their laundry detergent.
I looked for the details in an everyday public place that most people just go in to use to take care of a weekly chore.
Sometimes my favorite photos are the ones I take within my neighborhood in the most mundane places. It pushes me to learn how to see things in a different way most others overlook or don’t see.
So where can you go and take photos where you live? A grocery store? The library? The post office? The gas station? Pick a place and see if you can capture the place in a different way than you’ve seen before. Have fun!
When I was on a road trip last year for my honeymoon, I made the mistake of not researching what I wanted to see in specific cities. So when my husband and I would be discussing what time we needed to get up the next day to head out our next destination, he’d ask me, “So what do you want to do or see there?”
My answer? “I dunno.”
On our way into Atlantic Canada, our first stop was Saint John (New Brunswick).
We didn’t have a lot of time there (but we stopped to catch the Sea Dogs play!) and as we were driving and walking around, we weren’t really feeling the city. In a way, we wished we weren’t staying again a few nights later in the city on our way back into the US.
We drove the next day to Halifax and while we were there, I was trying to research places to photograph in Saint John on our way back.
I wasn’t having much luck in my research and I also don’t like touristy spots when I’m vacationing. I like to find local spots and interesting neighborhoods, especially when I have the intention to photograph.
I then had the idea of looking on social media. There must be photographers in Saint John, right?
I had the crazy (at least to me) idea of finding someone local online and messaging them for help.
I did and found Scott! I took a chance and messaged him. I told him I was struggling to find places to photograph and that I was looking to capture the spirit and feel of the city and open to any suggestions he might have. He replied back the same day and told me to check out Uptown which had great architecture along with a few specific streets. I thanked him and was excited to explore the city again with a local’s suggestions.
A few days later, we were back in Saint John.
While it was chilly for us Californians who didn’t properly pack for cold weather (like gloves would have been smart), we had a lot of fun exploring Uptown.
We ended up at the Loyalist house (it was so cold outside we were seeking shelter) and learned a lot about the history of the city from a guide who pretty much gave us a private tour.
We found some good food spots, continued to take photos as we walked around and as we got back to our hotel, we realized how much we ended up liking the city.
So my handy dandy travel tip for you is if you’re looking to find local spots to visit while traveling hit up Instagram. Search hashtags with that city’s name and if you find a local who takes great photos, send them a message to see if they’ll help you out by making suggestions on where to explore.
Not only will you get a local perspective of a place, but you may find yourself learning to appreciate a place the second time around.
If you recall, in my previous post, I shared with you an important question you should be asking yourself when it comes to photography. I decided to walk myself through the exercise for 5 of my recent favorite photos.
I have to say I got stumped a bit answering some of the questions, mostly the feelings and emotions bit.
The questions made me process my thoughts about my work and figure out what I like/didn’t like about my photos and what I want to work on.
Some takeaways looking at my photos …
I’m drawn to:
Things I would have changed:
Reflecting on the emotion and feelings of the photos was a bit challenging. The words that came to mind for the photos were feeling words of alive, happy, relaxed, calm, curious, funny and nostalgic.
Some photos I love purely because they remind me of a certain moment in time, but it’s a good reminder for me to think about these questions before I take a photo. They’ll help me be more thoughtful before I take a photo, especially if I shoot film photography rather than digital.
I’ve been doing photography for a while and know more or less what types of photos I’m drawn to. But you might not especially if you’re just learning. If you are, take lots of photos! After about a month of taking photos, go through and look for your favorite photos and answer the questions from the previous post. See what answers you come up with and see how your work changes over time.
This is a question I don’t think gets asked enough.
When you’re just starting out it’s common to ask others what they think about your photography whether it be a friend, a family member or even strangers online.
But what we often don’t get asked by others is, “What do YOU think about your photo?”
While it’s important to get feedback from others, we need to start asking ourselves "What do I think about this photo?" We need to begin thinking about our work more critically in a way that helps us process what we're doing when we pick up the camera.
When you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to talk about your photography so I came up with an exercise you can do to help you.
Sort through your photos and find 5 of your favorite ones. Look through them and for each one, answer the following questions:
See if you discover some common themes from the 5 photos you picked.
As you start asking yourself more questions about your own work, you’ll get better at understanding what types of photos you’re drawn to shooting and what techniques you want to improve.
I’ll be doing this exercise over the next week and I’ll share my findings so stay tuned for an update!