The last couple of years have encouraged (or forced!) many landscape and outdoor photographers to focus more on their local area. It’s something we hear mentioned in videos, podcasts, and articles all the time – but there are challenges to overcome. In this blog I wanted to share my experiences, thoughts, and tips on how to engage photographically with your local area in a positive way.
The first hurdle is a mental one – you must accept and work with your local landscape rather than wishing it was something else. Very few photographers live with all the features of the landscape they enjoy shooting on their doorstep. For example, I live down in Dorset and I know many may think “well it’s easy for him to say shoot local, Dorset is very photogenic” – which is in part true! However, I’d love some mountains, lakes, deep sandy beaches, waterfalls, and lashings of snow every year, but we certainly don’t get it here. So, we would all love every type of landscape on our doorstep but it’s not realistic. There will be some features and locations closer to you than others, and the goal is to be at peace with your offerings rather than wishing for others. Embrace what you have, don’t waste energy lamenting what you don’t.
Shooting locally ensures you can be on the scene quickly. If the weather, light, or mood is in your favour – then get out! There’s always something else to do (work, kids, shopping, house chores etc) but make yourself get out whenever you can. The picture can’t be taken whilst your camera is still in its bag.
Try to find out more about your local area. Are there any historical features that could give you creative inspiration? Think about the landscape over time, what was it used for, what is it used for now, how it may change in the future. Read about any local myths & legends for example. Also consider how modern-day factors such as climate change may be relevant to your local area – is there a way you can photograph this?
Working locally allows repeat visits and time to develop more long-term ideas and projects. Try putting together a set of images, even as few as 3 is a great starting point. Think about the consistency of tones, light, space and meaning of all the images to ensure they work together.
Local buyers generally want local scenes. An image of a place people know in great conditions, or with a creative twist, is far more likely to sell than a shot from a random beach or mountain abroad somewhere! You may love your travel images as you experienced them first-hand, but commonly local buyers have a connection to local scenery.
Outdoor photography can be a lonely pursuit. I think secretly lots of us enjoy this aspect of it, time to get out and be alone in the landscape. But there are great benefits to engaging with like-minded individuals. You can share your local knowledge of locations and conditions, have a laugh, reduce your carbon footprint from travel, and offer each other positive critique or support with your work.
If you follow these tips, I’m sure you’ll find even more creative and fun ways of working in your local environment. Don’t forget to share your images with us on social media using the hashtag #FSLocal.
To see more of Sam's work please visit his website at https://www.samgregory-photography.com/