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© 2020 Andy Smith (andyintothewild.co.uk). All rights reserved.

How to pick photography locations: think local!

*Note: all pictures in this blog were taken within 10 minutes of my house (at the time)

The Lake District. The Peak District. Snowdonia. Glencoe. These are all great locations in the UK which are surely worth a visit, but what do you do if you don’t have the time or money to get to one of these places? I, as I’m sure many of you do too, work full time Monday to Friday. This greatly reduces my options when it comes to photography locations because I either a) have a short time to visit places or b) have to use holiday to get there.

So why not think local? The benefits of shooting locally are obvious in time and money saved, but also there’s the originality of a lesser known location. How many times have you seen the same picture of “the lone tree” at Buttermere? Shooting locally helps get you shots which no one else has, which is great! 

Coate Water Diving Board in Fog (Swindon)

The image above was shot literally 5 minutes from my parents house, at a location I have visited many times since I was 2 years old.

A great photograph is made up of good:

  1. Light

  2. Composition

  3.  Subject

  4. Timing

To some degree the latter is less important with landscape photography, but notice that no where on the list does it say “visit a famous, well known location”. You can achieve all the other elements on the list by visiting local places. In fact there is a strong argument that it is easier because (in theory) you know the locations inside out!

Sunset Behind Pylons (Bristol)

Driving past these pylons every time I go up the M32, I knew that when the conditions for a hazy sunset were on the cards, I needed to head right here!

Planning

This hugely important for any landscape photographer, but getting to know your local area gives you the benefit of thinking about what conditions would best suit a location. For example, on the morning I took this I woke up, looked out my window and saw fog, and knew exactly where to go to make the most of it. The fog ended up clearing within 30 minutes so knowing where I as going was crucial.

Lawns Woods Tree (Swindon)

You should get to the point where you have a decent catalogue of locations, and an idea of what conditions might suit them best.

This shouldn’t be anything new, as I mentioned earlier this is the approach you should take with all landscape locations, but it’s much easier to apply if you fit into the “pressed for time” category!

Flexing your creativity

Another really important thing about thinking local is the originality of the images you can create. When you’re not thinking about “bagging the shot” which everyone else has (in some cases are physically queuing) you can focus more on the points I mentioned earlier, especially composition. You can take your time and place elements exactly where you want them, instead of where you think they should be.

Ashton Court Sunrise (Bristol)

Ultimately this will improve your photography in the long run, and in my personal opinion I much prefer images which I haven’t seen a thousand times before.

On a final note, this post is not to say that the popular locations are not amazing (after all, they are popular for a reason!) but don’t think that you need to visit them to get great images. More importantly, don’t think that you can’t get great images on your front doorstep!

Clifton Suspension Bridge (Bristol)

OK I’m being cheeky with this last image – I’m very lucky to live near to an iconic landmark, but you get my point!

So I hope this post inspires you to get out and explore your local area and make some unique images! Hopefully you will find this a rewarding experience which you are not only proud of, but helps build your photography skills!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you on the next one! 🙂

#locations #scouting #local #photography #landscape #pick