Being based in Orlando, Florida I am fortunate to be
blessed with a wide range of colorful and interesting photography subjects.
Lush vegetation, flowers, plenty of wild creatures (not to be confused with tourists),
gorgeous sunrises/sunsets, and beaches. When I first started trying to build a
body of photographic work I was inspired by the distant locales highlighted in
some of my favorite magazines like Outdoor Photographer and National Geographic
Traveler. I longed to shoot in those locales, and when I was able to travel I
would try to schedule time to photograph and planned accordingly. While I did
capture great images I was often disappointed that my photos didn’t always look
like the iconic ones associated with my destinations.
Then it struck me, who is more likely to get that
top shot of an eye popping sunrise behind Diamond Head? Me, on perhaps my once
in a lifetime visit to Oahu, or an avid photographer living in Honolulu who can
catch sunrises any day? If you guessed me, I appreciate your faith in my
abilities, but you would also be assuming that I am lucky enough to be there
when that eye popping sunrise occurs. However, I’m not suggesting you skip a
sunrise shot on your next trip. So what is my point in all this?
Research the interesting and iconic subjects in your
area. Think about where you live and why people might travel to it. Most towns
have a Chamber of Commerce website, or a local interest section in the
bookstore, or a simple Google search can identify great places to shoot. Do an image search on the same subject to see what other work has been done. Find images you like and try to replicate the craftsmanship, or put your own spin on the subject.
One place I found on a web search when I first
started exploring Central Florida is Gatorland in Kissimmee, FL. Gatorland is a
110 acre theme park/zoo which bills itself as the “Alligator Capital of the
World.” The Breeding Marsh is part of the Florida Birding Trail, and during the
spring is filled with marsh birds building nests, laying eggs, and caring for
their hatchlings. Gatorland has been an absolute boon to my collection of work
and my time there has greatly influenced the development of my artistic vision
as a nature/wildlife photographer.
But, what if wildlife photography is not your cup of
tea? Or, your passion lies in some different subject? Find that subject and do
a Google search for it plus your area. There may be a local club that meets
regularly or an annual festival/event that you can photograph. You assignment is
to find your own ‘Gatorland’ near you and start shooting. Perhaps the experience
will further shape your own artistic vision.