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How to Find Interesting Images In Ordinary/Everyday Locations | Video

By Anthony Thurston on December 14th 2014

We have all been there before, the photographer’s equivalent of writer’s block. You know what I mean, when all you have to photograph is normal everyday things you see all the time and the complete lack of motivation to photograph them.

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How to Find Interesting Images In Ordinary/Everyday Locations

I dealt with it this very weekend. I couldn’t drive out to the location I wanted to go to photograph, so I was stuck here in town with only things that I have shot a million times before as subjects. I have to tell you, it was rather deflating to think about.

But how can you overcome this lack of inspiration and motivation? What can you do to see things differently, find new and interesting ways to photograph the things you look at everyday? Well, for me, it all starts with perspective.

1. Change Your Perspective

Take some time to think about how you normally view these places and things. For example, a park. If you normally walk the trail one direction, do it differently this time and walk the opposite direction. Another great technique is to get low. We all see our surroundings looking from the top down. Try getting on the ground and looking at things from the ground up and you may notice some interesting things you never did before.

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A simple change of perspective can have a great effect on how you view and see the environment you are in and you may notice things about that location that you never did before.

2. Change Your Light

The other thing you can do besides changing your perspective is to simply go to that place at a different time of day than you normally would. As photographers, we know that light has a profound effect on how things look. So, it would stand to reason that if you visit a park in the morning normally, that it would look different in the evening – at least, different enough so that things that wouldn’t catch your eye in the morning, might do so in the evening.

[REWIND: INSPIRATION & PLAGIARISM: THE GOOD, BAD, & THE UGLY]

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3. Keeping Your Eyes Open

It can be easy to walk through places you have been many times before on autopilot – perhaps, walking with your head down or looking at the path ahead of you. While this is a great technique for thinking, it doesn’t help you find interesting or inspiring photographs in ordinary places. So keep your head up and on a swivel, constantly be looking around for things that catch your eye.

Stop every once and a while and do a 360 degree turn and take in your surroundings. You may look like a crazy person doing this every few minutes, but you will find a ton of things to photograph that you never noticed before at that location.

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More Great Tips from Mike Browne

The tips above are my own ideas and thoughts on the subject, but fellow photographer Mike Browne has put out a wonderful video with some great ideas and demonstration for finding the interesting out of the mundane. It’s a great little video, and if you are feeling uninspired, I recommend you give it a few minutes of your time.

It is easy to become complacent and forget about the beauty around us every day. We have all heard the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and that extends to our environments as well. One man’s every day, is another man’s new adventure.

So get out there and shoot! Find some interesting things in places that you no longer find interesting. You may just do some of your best work, and create some of your most rewarding images…

[via Mike Browne on Youtube]

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

8 Comments

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  1. Jesper Ek

    Examples – not that interesting…

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  2. Tosh Cuellar

    Great Ideas, I’m not a full time professional, I shoot and do design work for a government agency for my day job, sometimes the repetition and monotony of work assignments causes me to lose my drive and ambition and vision. Nice to see I’m not alone, and to see some good ideas for changing how you see things, should help me those times when I find myself void of imagination.

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  3. Hans photoWerks

    Totally agree!!! I think its also how sometimes we need to drag ourselves out there with the gear and just shoot… esp when we are lazy… :)

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  4. Nick DiGiallonardo

    Good tips for keeping things fresh in a stale environment. Mike Browne had a good point, go out alone when you do this otherwise you’ll drive your friends nuts.

    Go Timbers!

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    • William Emmett

      No such thing as a stale environment, just stale photographers. Look around, you have the brushes, you have the palate, you have the canvas, now paint. You may want to take some pictures of those nutty friends.

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    • Nick DiGiallonardo

      This article was about finding something new in an area that you’ve seen and visited a hundred times. My comment was just playing off what this article is about.

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  5. William Emmett

    In my business, I take people, who are visiting New Orleans, on a photographic tour of the City, and surrounding area. Every time I take a tour out I see things that are photogenic, but not the type of photo every Tom, Dick and Harry may see. Walking through the cemeteries give a lot of subject matter. Not only the tombs, but other subjects too. Insects are abundant, and give a great opportunity for a tourist to try their skill with macro, without crowds over running them. Shooting in the Botanical Gardens offer even more subjects, from park benches, to rare flowers. A trip to the Fair Grounds Race Track, is really impressive, but not many tourists get photos of these beautiful grounds, and horses. Great place to learn how to pan running horses. Of course I take the people to the more normal locations, like Jackson Square, and the opportunity to shoot street acrobats, musicians, and street people. Everyone wants a photo of Cafe De Monde, and eat a square do-nut and drink a cup of New Orleans tar. (Dark Chicory Coffee) I get them to photograph when they have their first experience with the powered sugar on the beignets . During their tour I teach them about color, and how their camera processes color. I teach the pro and cons of shooting JPEG, and RAW. I shoot the clients at the locations which they want to be shot, like under the street signs on Bourbon St. I take them to City Park, and shoot the ducks and geese in the lagoons, and even touch on birds in flight. I’ve learned every scene is a picture, anything that attracts your attention, is a picture pleading to be taken, every time the sun rises, or sets is a beautiful photograph, a lowly ant crossing the sidewalk is opportunity for macro. The subjects are endless, just look around, see something and shoot, the film is free, the experience is priceless.

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  6. Brandon Dewey

    good video!

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