Bloom Where You're Planted

July 01, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Don't live in close proximity to a national park or other iconic natural location? 

Don't have the budget - or time - to do a lot of traveling to such places?

Don't despair. In terms of your development as an outdoor photographer, this may be a blessing in disguise; there can be many benefits to working in closer proximity to where you live.

I began shooting in earnest when I relocated from Los Angeles to New Hampshire in the mid-1990s. Prior to that my job took me out on the road nearly every week. As partner at an executive search firm in New England, the hours were very long but at least I wasn't constantly flying back and forth. I could sneak in some time with the camera but most often it was going to have to be local.

The topography of the Granite State was delightfully different than what I'd been accustomed to. There's a little bit of everything: ocean shoreline, marshes, rivers, lakes, dense forests, mountains - including the highest peak in the Northeast - but it's compact. Most of it is within relatively easy reach. And while there are signature sights in New Hampshire, and photographers do visit (especially during foliage season), it's not filled with "hot spots" like the Snake River Overlook in the Tetons or Yosemite's Tunnel View, where it's easy to find tripod impressions made by the hundreds of people who've come previously and set up in exactly the same spot. 

For me, that was just about perfect.

It forced me to figure things out for myself. I explored what seemed like every nook and cranny in every region of the state. I identified the areas in which I had the most interest. I became well acquainted with weather patterns and conditions. I found my own locations and compositions. What stories did I want to tell? How would I convey them? 

Working in areas that are a little further off the beaten path increases the likelihood that your images will be more unique, and it's training that will stay with you when you do visit locations to which photographers flock. I consider myself fortunate to have had New Hampshire as my classroom.

Does it mean one can't make unique images in iconic spots? Do I have something against Zion or Death Valley or the Grand Canyon? Absolutely not! What it does mean is that you can make interesting images just about anywhere. Shooting closer to home is a great way to train yourself to see the beauty that is everywhere, and to learn how to reveal it in a unique, compelling way.

Don't feel you're at a disadvantage if you're based in Northern Illinois, or Eastern Iowa (both places I've called home) - or wherever it is that you live. 

Bloom where you're planted. 

Autumn reflections Lamprey River Durham New HampshireImpressionisticFallen leaves floating on the surface of the Lamprey River, their movement captured with a long exposure, combine with reflections of autumn color along the shoreline to create an impressionistic scene. (Near Durham, New Hampshire)



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