If you scroll through Instagram, or any of the other social media platforms, one can get the impression that to make great photos you need to go to a spectacular and exotic places. Of course, it is interesting to see photographs from faraway places and get a glimpse of environments that are unfamiliar. Photographs can be good for showing us places we never will visit and scenes we never will see. But in my eyes, photographs that show me familiar things in new ways are all the more interesting. And anyway, it’s worth remembering that your daily views of your hometown will very possibly be just as exotic and interesting to much of the rest of the world.
It is a well-known tip for authors, to write what you know. I think this is a good bit of advice for photographers as well. When you take photos of places and scenes that are familiar to you, most of the time you will see them in other ways, and with more intimate knowledge than strangers will. You also don’t only get one chance to get that shot, you will likely see the same place repeatedly, in different light and different weather. This can make for interesting series, or a better chance to get the perfect shot.
Another thing is that one day in the future, our photographs will be pictures of the past. And when I look at photos from the past, I enjoy looking at everyday objects and scenes, and familiar places. This shows me how much or how little, and how much, of our lives that have changed over time. So, I see it as a part of our tasks to show the future what our lives were like. Documenting everyday life and familiar places can become more valuable than we can imagine. We can not know now what people in the future will find interesting and exotic about our lives.
And lastly, searching for motives around our hometowns, we need to challenge ourselves to not take the same photos repeatedly. Different cameras, different film, different angles, and different times of the day can make us take more diverse photos and make us learn how to use different conditions to our benefit. I mostly take photos around my hometown because I don’t travel that much. And because I feel my photography benefits from me knowing the locations and conditions. It makes me able to plan better and more easily since I know how the light changes through the day, and if there is likely to be people there or not. It also makes me get to know my hometown even better. I can show you what is both familiar and exotic about where I live. And if I succeed, I can make my townspeople see their hometown in new ways, too.
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