There’s Nothing Here to Photograph !

One of the most frequent complaints I hear from photographers is ‘there’s nothing there to photograph’ – wherever “there” happens to be.

I moved over to Lincolnshire about 2 years ago now, from the fringes of the Peak District – and on asking local photographers where I could go to shoot, I heard the same thing over and over – there’s nothing here – Lincolnshire is too flat – there’s just nothing of any interest…. ‘you’re so lucky to have lived in the Peak District – we go there for our photography’

Grey Seal Portrait

So, having realised I wasn’t going to get much help, I decided to do, what I did where I lived before, and that was to make like a tourist, and drive round till I found something interesting.  I joined the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, and found they had 94 separate reserves and so even if I visited only one a week, that was nearly 2 years worth of exploring.

So deciding to drive around every reserve, even those off the beaten track, I got a good map and started to mark off where I’d been, which roads I’d been down, and not repeat any till I’d covered them all.

Some places were not that exciting, but some I ended up returning to again and again…. and this is what this blog piece is all about.

It WAS a good plan, a great strategy if you will, with the idea that once I’d been down that road – visited that reserve – I didn’t need to go again. After all, there were plenty more to visit.  What I hadn’t thought through though, was that I was ignoring the changes in light, the season, the weather, and the changes in me.

I visited places – thought they were pretty, but didn’t photograph them as I should have – thinking I could go back and get the same picture later – tomorrow – but you never do, and when, and if you do – its changed.  That tree fell down, buildings went up, the pond dried up.  It might be different when you go back, it might be better, or worse but it won’t be the same.

It’s important, if you want the right photographs to have repeated access to see things at different times.  Of course, if you go on trip abroad, you may only have the one chance to see things, at one time of day.   You might be lucky, and get that shot of a lifetime, but mostly, you don’t.  You need to be able to plan a return visit, at different times of day, to increase your chances of success.

If you can go to the same place more than once, it might be just the same, but if you’re clever, you will target that place for different times of day, different seasons, and so on, increasing your chances of getting a better shot.

Everywhere is interesting if you get the right weather, the right time, the right mood.

The familiar can be just as exciting as the unfamiliar – if you let it.

Spend time getting to know the places you have access to, and the unusual conditions that you haven’t let yourself experience yet.

We live in a county that is a holiday mecca – caravans, mobile homes, great beaches.  People wouldn’t come here if it wasn’t attractive in some way.  There’s probably a lifetime of photography within 50 miles of where we all live.  Travel is good for for our photographic vision, but local views, and our experience of them, can help us too.

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Images – Covenham St Bartholomew (colour) and Fotherby Top (mono)