March 23

3 comments

Tips for Staying Creative and Shooting Close to Home

By Dan

March 23, 2020


Remember back in January when I wrote my New Year’s blog post about looking forward, making our lives what we want them to be, and pondering ideas about where we want to go with our photography this year?

Well… 2020 and this brand new decade haven’t exactly started quite out like we’d hoped, now, has it? Unfortunately, regular life has suddenly ground to a halt for many people around the world, and all those big ideas are on hold right now.

With many of us in self isolation as we try to flatten the curve, and many people home and out of work for the foreseeable future, life has suddenly become a very serious and in some cases, desperate affair for a large number of people around the globe.

As I’m sure it has for nearly everyone, the severity and urgency of this crisis has weighed on me with a great deal of concern as to what our immediate and longer term future will mean for us as a society. With my self-confidence and adventurous personality, I am usually ok with the aspect of “I don’t know” in life, but this is different. Very different.

At the same time, I’m doing my best to remain calm as I hunker down in my little house in Anchorage and stay close very close to home right now. Having traveled earlier this month, I am engaged in my own self-quarantine, and so here I am, pounding away at the keyboard just like I always do, doing my best to try and keep inspiring you, just in case you still want to think about photography.

In some ways, photography seems like kind of a trivial thing right now. After all, don’t we all have more important things to be concerned with? Yes, but even in these stressful and harried times, engaging in hobbies that make you happy and exploring your creativity can help keep us a little more sane during the chaos.

If you find that it helps you to stay a little more grounded by immersing yourself in your own creative endeavors, then I encourage you to keep exploring in whatever small chunks you find available or desirable.

Of course, it may be impossible, impractical or unsafe to practice your preferred style of photography right now, but that fact can actually force you to stretch your own creativity in new ways that you don’t normally do.

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some ideas of isolation-friendly shooting approaches.

Shooting in Your Own Backyard

That pink poppy photo at the top is actually in my front yard. Well, not right now, but I’ve spent a lot of time over the years capturing subjects right around my house, and around my neighborhood.

Even with Anchorage’s “Hunker Down Order,” our mayor has recognized the need for us all to get outside and enjoy some fresh air during this crisis. He stated as such in the actual wording of the legal document.

Taking walks is a vital thing for us all to do, especially right now, providing that you do you best to retain proper “social distancing” techniques. With that in mind, this is a good time to explore and photograph those out-of-the-way places near your house that you never visit any other time.

There’s a world of beauty out there, and even the mundane subjects you pass by every single day can inspire some new photographic ideas if you make the effort to get out and try new approaches.

Portraits of Your Fellow Quarantinees

Of course, regular portrait photography is SO not ok right now. Well, maybe it’s ok with with a really long lens. Either way, if you’re sharing your self-isolation with someone special or a group of friends or family members, practice your people photography skills on those special people you’re stuck with.

With that in mind, Chris Orwig is offering his awesome eBook “People Pictures” for free right now. This is a great manual for inspiring new ideas and helping you shoot better portraits of those important people in your world.

Pet Photography

Not so much into people photography? Like your pets better? Maybe you’re jonesing to do some action photography, or perhaps you had to cancel that that overseas wildlife photo safari trip. Not to worry. While it’s not safe to hang around people, you don’t need to social distance from your beloved pets.

Not only are they great companions during stressful times, they make wonderful photography subjects, even though the don’t always cooperate. But therein lies the challenge, right?. In that way, photographing your pets in motion can be an excellent way to practice you sports, action and wildlife photography skills.

And lets face it, we love our pets. It can be quite rewarding to make an awesome and memorable photo of your favorite animal friend.

Still Life and Object Photography

This is a great time to practice capturing subjects that you’re not always adept with or interested in shooting during normal times. Well, these aren’t normal times, and there’s a world of interring stuff inside your own house to keep you busy for a long time, like plants, textures, lego people, Star Wars action figures, musical instruments… you name it.

The Bird Feeder

I don’t think I need to say much about this. I know that some of you do this on a regular basis. If you don’t, then dig that old bird feeder out of the attic/basement, hang it up in front of a window, break out that long lens and have fun.

If you don’t have one, then make one. I’m sure there are plenty of tutorials for making homemade bird feeders to be found on the YouTube.

—————-

No matter what you like to shoot, there’s plenty of stuff in your suddenly shrunken world right now to give you lots of visual pleasure. It may take some time to get back in the swing of things, but chances are, once you start, you may quickly find that enjoyment when you immerse yourself in your own creativity.

And don’t neglect those other hobbies too. Anything to keep you sane and happy during these strange days, even if it’s in very small chunks: Music, drawing, dance, cooking, break baking etc…

Finally, I want to offer you my heartfelt thoughts during this extremely challenging and uncertain time.

Having gotten to know many of my readers in person and through email exchanges and social media, I feel like you guys are my extended world family. I embrace the connections I feel have with you and I wish you the very best in the coming days and weeks.

Stay safe and be well.

-Dan

About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.

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  • Thanks Rick. There are definitely opportunities for us all to keep being creative right now, we just have to make some alterations in our approach and turn inward. I haven’t used the camera much lately, but I’ve been shooting with the phone and also playing/practicing more music in my home.

    Stay safe and be well!

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    Terry Bourk

    I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

    Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.


    Roger Sinclair

    You have done it again! Another triumph.

    Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

    Thank you, Dan.