Shooting the familiar...

Not everyone will be going on holiday this month. Some of us may be returning to a well loved destination. How do we find inspiration with views and scenes that we are so familiar with already? It is easy to stop seeing or feel we are stuck in a rut with our photography. 

What I came to realise some time ago was that there are always things we haven't noticed before even in the most familiar places. There is always a different light, a different season and small details we hadn’t seen before. The photos in this post are from a beach I visit every few months when visiting my parents - I will always find another shot to get, a different perspective, a different light....

The more we look, the more we notice, but sometimes we need a purpose to get us to pick up our cameras and get out there. Here are a few of my favourites to open your photographic eye wider!

  • Set yourself a monthly/holiday challenge - you might choose a theme such as a colour, or something specific like clouds, leaves etc. You might have a scavenger hunt like list of things to capture. Google for monthly challenges and you will find lots of ideas online.

  • Choose somewhere near to where you live - decide to capture it at different times of the day and of the year. The more you revisit it the more you will notice the subtle changes of the light and the seasons. That's how I can photograph this beach so many times - the weather and seasons give me different moods, different light and different patterns on the sand and rocks. This year I even saw frost for the first time ever!!

  • Set out on a walk - decide on a number of steps and then stop and look for something around you to shoot. You need a bit of discipline to restrict yourself from looking at things further away from you and try not to zoom too much!

  • Choose to shoot in black and white - different subjects work in black and white and it can be interesting to see our familiar world in tones of black, white and grey. You will definitely see things differently with this idea! Or shoot with an intention to convert your images into black and white or a creative edit such as the one at the top of this newsletter. 

  • Switch the lens on your camera or switch to just your phone. Work with the limitations these choices might give you. Decide to shoot using one focal length on your lens - find out what you normally shoot at (in your photos file information and expressed in mm) and try another length.

  • Shoot from a different perspective - the view of an ant, the view of a butterfly, from the height of a dog or a small child etc. 

  • Go out with other photographers - we all see the world so differently that we are bound to notice different things and in that way we can help each other notice more. I love seeing what students notice and shoot on the social walks I organise and how they are different to mine.

Familiar can be just as inspirational as the new - if we just care to notice.

A version of this post also appears in August's Flyer magazine.

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All images © Sarah Holmes 2021 No reproduction without prior permission.