One of the great things about photography is you can do it anywhere, including in your home. The basic elements that make for a good photograph aren’t going to change either. As the author of the book “simple scene, sensational shot” I wrote at length of the reasons to photograph local! Here you’re going to see seven reasons why it’s great to photograph your local hood. You’ll get great photos, and when you do go to the more exotic locations you’ll be ready to nail the photo.

You never know what photographic opportunities will present themselves in your local community. These girls were performing during the Suncheon garden expo, I manged to capture them walking down a side street.

1 – You know your hood better

Well you really should, and if you don’t it’s time to go exploring! Local knowledge of the landmarks, and hidden gems really can’t be beaten. If you’re in the city knowledge of viewpoints for those big cityscape photos is a great reason to photograph local. Likewise are you out in the country? Perhaps you know the best time of year to photograph a landscape, when the sun is in the perfect position? Are you a portrait photographer? Well not being a total stranger will make life that much easier for both street photography, and recruiting local models.

Suncheon bay is the nearest big draw attraction, which in S.Korea is a national landmark. Being local means you can visit it often, and photograph the less seen flora.

2 – It doesn’t cost you money to travel

In the past photography was an expensive hobby, buying film and developing it was pricey. One of the only ongoing cost for today’s photographer is the money it takes to get to your photography location. When you photograph local that cost is nothing or negligible, meaning there is no excuse not to go out as often as possible! Well there can be a few reasons, but the more you practice the more sensitive your eye will become. Photographing regularly gives you exercise for your eye, just as a body builder goes to the gym to build up their muscles.

The sky isn’t always this good in S.Korea, it’s always nice to get a decent sunset.

3 – You’ll have more time to practice

In a similar vein to the cost being low, the time commitment is also significantly less. Sure you might need to make a three or four hour round trip to get to the local famous landmark, but there is no plane journey involved! Then there are all the other places to photograph that are much closer to home. Time is one of the most valuable commodities that any creative person can have. The more time you put into your photography the more creativity you’ll produce. In fact because you don’t have a world famous landmark to work with, unless you’re lucky and live near one, it means you’ll have to go the extra yard to find a way to make your photo stand out.

Exploring your local area will mean you’ll see photos other might miss. This area was perfect to practice light painting, I made a whirlwind with the light!

4 – Refine your techniques when you photograph local

That extra time you have, because you didn’t need to spend a long time getting to location? Yes that can be put to good use when practicing and refining your photographic techniques. Whether you’re interested in light painting, refraction or portrait work these techniques all need time to hone. Everyone knows when you first try a new technique you use it all the time. You will also discover that one year on from when you began a new technique, you’re early work may not be as tight. You want to avoid going away for an amazing location when you’re under-cooked for a particular photography technique. Another reason to practice and photograph local, so you’re ready for the amazing photo on the trip you’re planning. Of course the aim is to get equally amazing photos from your local area!

It’s always great to work with other people. This was a friend of mine in Suncheon who kindly agreed to model for me.

5 – Your friends may offer to model for you.

It can be useful to become known as the photographer of the community. With this kudos comes the respect from others, and when you ask someone to model for you the answer is more likely to be yes. Now of course your model is unlikely to be professional level, though they may aspire to build a portfolio to become more professional. This is a situation where a photographer and model can help each other, the arrangement is called time for print. Time for print basically means both the photographer and model give their time freely, but that there is an understanding the results can be used commercially. It’s always a good idea to get a model release if you’re a photographer, and a photo release if you’re a model.

Crystal ball photography is my signature style. My earliest photos are all in Suncheon, where I had plenty of time to practice.

6 – There is no pressure to get the shot

So you didn’t nail the photo this time, though it’s a complacent attitude that you can always go back, there is truth in this logic. You also didn’t spend a lot of money, and time, so the pressure is far less on you to get this do or die photo. Having less pressure leaves you more open to trying out new ideas, and creative techniques though. It’s not really the best idea to try out new things in a place you might visit once, that’s not the case when you photograph local though. So you’re local neighborhood is in fact the place where creativity can flourish, and you can try for an amazing technique in a less glamorous location.

I’ve visited Suncheon bay many times, and have always wanted to photograph it with snow. One day it would be amazing to see more than a dusting of snow there.

7 – You’re able to photograph the best weather

Getting to be on the ground the majority of the year really ensure you’ll get the best photo of local points of interest. Why is that? The weather of course, and this is true whether you’re a portrait or a landscape photographer. It’s especially true in regions of the world that are seasonal. Capturing a place with snow, or seasonal blossoms will always elevate the interest in a scene. It’s also true that every sunset is different, the chance of capturing that perfect 10? Unless the traveling photographer is exceptionally lucky, the local photographer will get the best and most dramatic skies in their photo. Out of all the reasons listed here, this is arguable the best reason to photograph local, and often.

When national geographic traveller came calling, I was the local photography in my community they turned to. This photo was used as a double page spread to an article I photographed for this prestigious magazine.

What’s your best local photograph?

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and there was some useful information in it for you. Here at creative photography school we love to see your work. So what’s your best photo from where you live? What makes it’s special for you? Was one of the reasons here a factor in it’s success, or was there something else that made it work? Please let us know all the details in the comments section!


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Simon Bond
Simon Bond

Simon Bond is a professional photographer from the UK, his work has featured on the front page of National Geographic Traveler and numerous other magazines. He is most well known for his work with the lensball, for which he has featured in national newspapers in the UK. You can find out more about lensball photography by downloading his free e-book! Simon has also produced a video course on lensball photography called Globalise, which you can buy here!

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