As a landscape photographer, it is much easier to photograph the areas that are close to your home, rather than traveling all over the world in pursuit of world-famous locations. Traveling can be a lot of fun, but it also costs money (sometimes a lot of it), takes time, and requires added planning. Extensive travel is not a realistic option for many hobbyist photographers, and even for some pros.
Although you may desire to see, experience, and photograph landscapes all around the world, there is a lot that can be gained by focusing on the areas that are close to home.
I’ve lived in Pennsylvania for most of my life, and it wasn’t until I picked up an interest in photography that I got very familiar with the landscape of my home state. As I started to research and explore the areas around me, I was shocked at how much beauty and how many photo opportunities exist without traveling very far. I’m sure the same can be said about the area where you live.
If you want to make the most of your local area without the need to rely on traveling to far off lands for your photography, here are some practical tips.
1. Embrace the Local Landscape
First, I think there is a shift in mentality that can help you in your quest to photograph your local area. It’s easy to see photos of spectacular locations around the world and feel like your local area just doesn’t have anything to offer. But the truth is, there is plenty of natural beauty and you don’t need to travel to exotic or epic locations in order to come away with amazing landscape photos.
Embrace the idea that you can create beautiful photos without traveling too far from home, and set out to make the most of the locations that are easily accessible to you. One of the downsides to photographing epic locations is that it’s easy to get lazy and rely on a spectacular location or view to make your photographs amazing. Focusing on your local area is likely to make you a better photographer by challenging you to do your best work without the help of world-class locations.
2. Re-Visit the Same Location (Especially in Different Seasons)
One of the benefits of photographing your local area is that it is easy and inexpensive to return many times. You won’t need to fly and plan a big trip. You can simply get in your car and photograph whenever you’re able to do it.
There are a lot of benefits to re-visiting the same locations, and one of the biggest is the fact that you can photograph the same spot in many different weather conditions and in the different seasons throughout the year. The same scene can look completely different depending on the weather, season, and also time of day. Don’t assume that photographing the same location will be boring or will lead to a portfolio of photos that all look the same.
Aside from the benefits of photographing in different seasons and weather, you’ll also benefit by really getting to know the places that you photograph. You’ll usually find that your best photographs are taken on repeat trips, after you’ve gotten to know the location a little better. The more you know the locations, the better your photographs will become. Re-visiting locations all around the world simply isn’t practical for most of us, but re-visiting local spots is extremely practical.
3. Maximize Peak Seasons
Another benefit to photographing your local area is the added flexibility of being able to get there quickly. If you’re planning a long trip, you won’t have as much flexibility. But if you’re heading out to a local park or somewhere close to home you can easily wait for the ideal conditions.
As an example, peak fall foliage can be difficult to predict. You could plan a trip based on the best available information, but the colors may not be at their peak during your trip. But if you’re photographing a local spot, you can wait until the conditions are ideal, and then simply make the most of the peak season by getting out as much as possible.
This also applies to weather as well as seasons. You can wait until the weather is ideal for what you want to photograph without the need to plan a big trip. Greater flexibility leads to better photos.
4. Brand Yourself
If you’re focussing on photographing your local area, one of the major benefits will involve how you are able to brand yourself as a photographer. Obviously, there are a lot of landscape and nature photographers out there, so anything you can do to stand out will help.
By emphasizing the local landscapes in your work and your portfolio, you can brand yourself as the go-to photographer for local landscape and nature photos. Chances are, very few other photographers are attempting to brand themselves as experts in the local landscapes.
5. Find as Many Local Spots as You Can
If you want to get the most out of your local landscapes, you need to know all of the best spots in your area! You should constantly have your eyes open, and make an effort to find as many local spots as possible. There are plenty of ways to go about this, and my article How to Find Places to Photograph Near You can help you to get started.
6. Embrace Detail
There are a lot of different types of landscape and nature photos that you can take. Maybe your local area doesn’t have vast, rugged landscapes that are ideal for epic shots that showcase wilderness, mountains, deserts, or other things we commonly associate with landscape photography.
When you’re photographing your local area, you have to work with whatever is available to you. Regardless of the type of landscape that surrounds you, one option is to photograph fine details and intimate scenes. These are often closeup shots, or photos taken at a distance with a telephoto lens. It could involve patterns and texture on a rock, leaves and plants, flowing water, or some other natural element.
The great thing about these types of shots is that small details are everywhere around us, so you don’t need a world-famous landscape in order to take great photos. To learn more about how to do this, please read 7 Tips for Focusing on Fine Details in Your Landscape Photography.
7. Work on Composition
If you are able to master the art of composition, you can take great landscape and landscape photos just about anywhere. The landscape of your local area won’t limit you or prevent you from capturing great shots.
By working to improve your composition, you’ll see the quality of your photos improve significantly, and you’ll be able to capture photos that make your local landscapes look great. For more on composition see:
Some great tips. Last year I started exploring the forest near my house and discovered a series of small waterfalls about 400m from my front door that I’d never seen photographed by anyone and hadn’t noticed in 30 years of living here!