Be creative on 1 square meter.
“But where I live, there is nothing special/beautiful/epic/…!”
Are you feeling stuck by the idea that your surroundings have nothing to offer or don;t inspire you? Then this blog post is written for you.
I often read the dreamy wishes of living in another place to have better pictures. Those that live in the mountains would prefer the sea, those that live by the sea see the epic opportunities of the mountains. City people would love some rural charm and those living in the countryside crave some urban coolness. But rest assured; every surrounding that you know will feel normal. Maybe even boring. And then we can get carried away by the beautiful elements of other places and the if-only-feeling. I love to travel and discover new places but I also challenge myself to look for new things in a place I already know- or think I know too well. I literally stand still to look around and wonder:”What is different today?” or ” What did I not see before?”
It’s the trick to, even after years of the same hike or the same location, find a new way to capture a moment.
This exercise is not only a great way to challenge yourself and to sharpen your observations, but it’s also a way to learn to see the unique qualities of your surroundings. And of course, some days are just a struggle. And some locations are more exciting than others. And we all have these uninspired days to conquer.
Every location is different. Is unique. And full of options. Really!
“But you’re in beautiful Sweden!” I hear you think.
And yes, I love it here and think it’s beautiful. But just like any other place, it comes with advantages and disadvantages.
We have the forest. Deep green troll forest. And sparkling lakes. But we also have a lot of the same trees and a lot of cold water that you can’t reach because of the trees.
Two ways to look at the same location.
When we still lived in Belgium and we would drive for an hour in any direction, we would see all types of landscapes: city, different trees, parks, castles, … If you drive for an hour in Sweden, you’re just on the other side of the same forest. I can also only enjoy purple lavender fields through photographs since I couldn’t even keep two of these plants alive here.
But that’s not a problem. Not even a restriction. For my photographs and our life that I document, I find great joy in capturing the typical elements of our surroundings. And it’s a pleasure to share all the greens (in summer) and all the white (in winter) with you while I enjoy sunny pictures from Spain or urban scenes from Antwerp. And many
people dogs I follow online provide me thought their images of a world that isn’t mine. I see magnificent mountain hikes, deserts, waterfalls, cool cities or charming little villages that tickle my imagination.
In short: every location has something that is new or different for someone else. You can work with any place to create a unique or typical image.
To walk the talk, I made this series with Mogwai by our front door which isn’t special nor charming. Just functional: it helps to get in and out the house in a comfortable way. And it needs some work too. I also did not wait for the perfect weather of the most beautiful light. It was just a moment in between that I went out with Mogwai and we had dark clouds, bright sunlight and everything in between in less than half an hour. I worked quickly because it was mostly just a quick exercise/illustration so I did not want to use different lenses, props or spent a lot of time thinking about this.
Oh, and did you notice I just picked apples to make some apple cake? 🙂
Tips to get started:
– Look around: where is the light, do you see patterns or lines you can use?
– Move: even is you have the shot, try to make another photo from the other side, from close by or further away.
– Use different lenses or a different focal length. I mostly work with primes which means I can’t zoom in or out but have to get another lens for a different focal length. If you do have a zoom lens, try it at different lengths to get a variety of images. You can also play with depth of field to create a different atmosphere.
– Use elements that are typical for you or your dog.
– Play with moods and colors in editing. In this series I used my Lightroom presets to get a consistent look through all the images despite the huge differences in light. (Here I used a mix of my “What is left” and “Moody days” of the Nordic Autumn Lightroom presets which you can find on Etsy.)