by Guest Contributor Valérie Jardin
Can’t afford an exciting vacation or a photo workshop in an exotic location? Do not despair, you can still have fun with your camera in your own neighborhood and find the extraordinary in the ordinary. You just have to make the effort to get out there and learn to see your familiar surroundings with a fresh perspective.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Don’t even go out the door yet, start in your own home, open a drawer and take out any common household item that inspires you. Then shoot it from different angles and depths of field. Let some direct sunlight shine through it, place it on a textured or shiny surface to get different feels. Try it and you’ll be surprised at how fun it can be and how much you’ll learn in the process!
Now step outside and walk down the street. Stop randomly and look around you. Pick an object, it can be anything from a manhole cover or a door knob. Study it from different perspectives and then shoot. Play with shadows and light. Get down on the ground or shoot from above. Try different aperture settings. If you enjoy working in the digital darkroom, let your creative juices flow. Add filters. Play with those sliders. This is all about vision – your vision!
Walk down the street. Stop randomly and look around you
Another day, another photo walk… Pick a theme before you head out with your camera: Patterns, textures, reflections, collections, a specific color. It doesn’t mean that you can’t shoot anything else while you’re out, but the theme will keep you focussed (ha!) and your walk will turn into a treasure hunt.
Try your hand at some street photography. You know your town, look for the perfect spot. A building with signage to add a sense of place, a textured or bright colored wall, etc. Then wait… The right person will walk by and a story will unfold, just be ready to tell that story in one frame. Capture gesture, good street photography is all in the body movement or expression. Don’t be shy, just remember to be respectful of your subject.
Pick a theme such as a color
Another day, another theme: Why not look for reflections today
Ready to try something a bit more challenging? Interact with strangers and ask if you can make a street portrait. It’s very intimidating but also addicting. Yes, you will get some rejections but a smile can go a long way. People like a compliment and most don’t mind having their picture taken. Use common sense and follow your instinct, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Be friendly: “Cool hat, I love it! Would you mind if I took your picture?” Show them the resulting image on the back of your camera, offer a business card, they may want a copy later. If you are really shy and new at this, street performers are easy subjects to photograph and they usually love the attention.
Engage in a conversation with a stranger and ask to make a street portrait of them
Plan ahead and do a photo essay about a subject that really interests you. Your local baseball league, the bakery down the street or the neighbor’s garage band. The goal is to tell a story in several frames by including wide shots, environmental portraits as well as detail shots.
Collections of things are fun to shoot at market
The trip to an exciting location may not be accessible this year but, if you give it a try, you can see your familiar environment with new eyes and fall in love with being a story teller with your camera all over again.
Bonjour! I’m Valérie Jardin and photography is my passion. It’s what I do to earn a living and for pleasure on my days off. I live and breathe in pixels. I love to share the passion and teach this beautiful craft. You can connect with me on Facebook, visit my website, or join me on my next photo workshop: A week in Paris in October!