Some people like to constantly explore new places, without going back to those they’ve already seen. Other people like revisiting the same location several times and photographing it again and again. Although I love traveling, adventure and exploring new places, I must admit that I still fall within that second category. There are some locations I have visited and photographed dozens of times, and I believe that it has helped me improve as a photographer over the years.
You don’t have to go to a distant destination far from your hometown. As a matter of fact revisiting your favorite place in your own neighborhood with a camera will do just fine. In this article, we’ll look at how revisiting the same location can help you improve as a photographer.
I was partially inspired by Nigel Danson’s ideas on how to improve your photography. One of them is to shoot local, and I gave an example of one of my favorite places in Novi Sad. It’s called Šodroš, and it’s not the most photogenic place in the city. Heck, it’s not even the cleanest. But it has some kind of charm and calming energy that makes me go back there again and again. I often ride my bicycle there, I always bring my camera with me, and I have photographed it dozens of times, both alone and with friends. So, here are some of the ways I believe this has helped me to learn and improve as a photographer.
1. Shooting in different conditions
I have photographed Šodroš in all seasons, at different times of day and in different weather conditions. All this means that I’ve visited the place in many different lighting situations. They haven’t always been favorable for the kind of photos I wanted to take. But, this has made me explore different types of lighting and learn how to make the best out of each of them.
2. Trying out different genres
When you revisit the same location dozens of times, it can get boring to always shoot the same stuff. So, you’ll change something every once in a while and play with different genres. I usually shoot landscapes when I’m there. But since there are lots of flowers, beetles and trees by the river, the place is ideal for macro photos. I even shot some portraits there; the location works great for them, too.
3. Constraints for creativity
In relation with the previous point, it can get boring to shoot the same things every time. So, to spice things up, you can challenge yourself every time you revisit the location you like. Limitations can open new possibilities, and they can help you increase creativity. For example, you can go to the location carrying only a camera and a fixed lens. Or only a smartphone. Or perhaps only a film camera. Maybe you can shoot only macro during one visit, or only textures during the other… It’s up to you, get creative! I’ve done all of these things, and I’ve always come home with at least one interesting photo. Think about a challenge and then go to your favorite place with a camera. Here are a few photos I took last summer when I went to Šodroš carrying only a film camera with a fixed lens:
4. Learning how to use new gear
When you buy a new piece of gear, I believe that shooting at a familiar location can be a great way to test it out and learn its advantages and limitations. If you’ve been to a particular location many times, you more or less know what to expect, so you don’t need to think about the environment or the lighting that much. You can focus on your new gear and learn what you can do with it.
5. Coming up with new ideas
Depending on the type of your favorite location, it can be a great place to visit when you need inspiration. Since Šodroš is by the river, I find it ideal for chilling, thinking and coming up with new ideas. Other than bringing my camera, I often bring a notebook there as well. I take some time to sit down, think about new ideas, and write them down or draw them. And oftentimes, the ideas are related to the place itself, so I come back next time to turn my ideas into reality.
6. Bonus: having fun
This isn’t necessarily related to photography, but it’s an important part of our lives – having fun! Revisiting the same place with a camera can simply make your day. It can help you wind down, have fun, or spend quality time with friends. I often go to Šodroš alone, but sometimes I hang out there with my brother or friends. We go there to ride bicycles or simply sit down and talk, but of course – I bring my camera with me. Sometimes my friends do too, and the visit turns into a photo shoot we all enjoy. It reminds me of playing outside with friends like I did in childhood, and nothing can make my day more than that.
To conclude, even if you travel a lot, there will be periods when you’ll stay in your hometown for months. Even if you know it like the back of your hand, it always has something new to offer. So, when there isn’t anything new to explore – discover the old, familiar places anew.