Photo Tip Tuesday: Locations

As I stated before my photo tip series is a focus on taking pictures yourself. While I like nature and appreciate an empty landscape for my locations, these spots are chosen from necessity as much as preference. As in: I live downtown right now, but I don't feel comfortable setting my tripod up and trotting back and forth for pictures on sidewalks while neighbors watch me from their windows and random passerby end up in the backs of my shots. So, when I shoot in more secluded spots this is because I'm less likely have someone watching me or end up in my photographs. Still, my locations aren't quite as empty as you might think.

Try Public Parks: Most of my photographs are shot in the public parks around my area--which provide green spaces without even needing to leave the city and it means I'm not trespassing on private property. You can spot a lot of interesting locations going about your typical day, but the Internet is another good resource for scouting locations and finding local parks in your region. Also, it's all in the name--public parks are there to serve the public--they're a perfect spot to enjoy nice weather and snap a few pictures. Usually the only thing I have to worry about is curious joggers or hikers who occasionally stop to ask me what I'm photographing.

Choose Your Angles: A good location doesn't have to be in the middle of nowhere and you can make things look rather empty just by the angle you choose. A pretty river beside a busy road is still a great place for pictures. Instead of trying to find truly secluded spots far outside of your normal paths, think about what angles you can shoot from. My car is almost always within eyesight of where I'm shooting, which means there's usually a parking lot or another road nearby too. Other days I'm directly by a busy road with only a tree or two between, but as you can see from my pictures I always choose my angle carefully to exclude those details. So, pay attention to interesting spots even if they aren't completely secluded--a beautiful shot could be beside an eyesore or hiding right behind your house.

Don't Forget to Work Your Settings: As I mentioned in last week's photo tip, a low f-stop will make your background more blurred, so even if you're shooting with something you don't like in the background you can limit the attention it receives by having it blurred out.

Think Creatively: Sometimes it isn't about the location being spectacular but seeing something special in the mundane. The above picture was taken in a parking lot with cars just a few feet from me, but I found the shadows and scattered leaves really pretty. You don't need the most beautiful path by the river or fascinating abandoned train, you just need a little imagination to appreciate your surroundings. Notice the light and shadows--don't be confined by a specific idea of where you want to shoot but be open-minded to different places you might find.
Also, remember if you are focusing on self-portraits or outfit pictures, then you don't need a spectacular backdrop. More than anything you need a non-distracting backdrop that won't take attention from the subject, so don't focus on finding the most stunning location.

A Couple of Indoor Ideas: I don't often work indoors so I'm very limited on suggestions for shooting indoors (both in terms of locations and what settings to use), but two places I like to try on bitterly cold days: libraries and arcades. Try visiting your library during non-peak hours to avoid other people and take a friend to the arcade to play a bit between shots. A more serious photographer can scout locations and contact buildings to get permission to shoot, but for the type of photos I focus on public spaces work best.
Summary: you don't need wide open spaces but rather to be strategic about angles and public parks are your friend. You can find past photo tips here.


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