By Karen Edwards
Sprawling landscapes, mind-blowing sunsets and spectacular scenery might seem like the ideal photography aesthetic – however, often the most striking pictures are the ones that tell a humble story. This is why photography in familiar environments, is a great starting point for any budding photographer. Nearer home, you can more easily capture the nuances of everyday life – pulling out beauty in normality we often take for granted. Here are seven ways to begin your photographer journey around home.
From garden walls to windowpanes, subways to busy markets – there are plenty of everyday backdrops to stage a photograph. The real challenge, however, is capturing the normality of life in a unique and enticing way. Before you begin, spend a few days observing your surroundings. Like, really looking around. Take the same route on your daily walk. Absorb the subtle changes – like how the sunlight filters through a back alley at 8am, but ducks behind a high-rise block after 1pm. Or how the pastel-colored townhouses never look dreary on a rainy day. Retraining your eye to see the small, predicable wonders that draw in your eye. These are the features of a good photograph.
Part of the joy of localised photography is that it should be effortless. When you have to think twice about whether or not to capture an image, the uncertainty can cause you to miss a great opportunity. Or perhaps it’s a sign that your heart is not quite in it. If you’re eager to embark on a photography journey, always be ready to strike. Ensure your camera is easily accessible. In fact, see it as an extension of your hand. The key moment is often fleeting, and by keeping a camera body and standard lens on your person while out, you will ensure you’re always ready.
Light is the most important element of photography. It can determine the structure of an image; the angle from which the picture is taken, and the ambience of snap. It can highlight intricate textures and illuminate faces. Natural light is rarely not enough to compose a striking shot – even the darkness of rain clouds adds mood to a photo. Shadow, meanwhile, adds to the temperament of a picture. It introduces dimension and drama to an otherwise ordinary scene and evokes mystery into portraits. However, mediocre overcast days, you may need to rely on the artificial light of a shop or streetlight to capture an image. And if that doesn’t work, don’t be disheartened – tomorrow will always bring new light and new opportunities.
If you come across a person you’d like to photograph, the best approach is to ask permission. Photographing anyone without telling them is not only intrusive and creepy – but it also won’t capture emotion or engagement. Pluck up the courage to introduce yourself as a photographer and explain the portrait you wish to capture and why. If they are willing, guide your subject through the process. What background did you envisage? Should they look at the camera or away? Do you want a smile, or should they be serious? Typically, the more natural they act the better. By a way of thanks, show them their portrait on the screen – or offer to email it to them later. A positive interaction could brighten both of your days.
The copper-coloured autumn leaves scattered across your patio, the rumbling gray clouds overheard on your commute to work, even the stripped back wooden floorboards underneath your landing rug – texture is everywhere, and it can provide a stunning setting to any image. Once your eye is naturally directed towards obvious textures such as those mentioned, you will find detail in every scene. Be it the frothy foam of a bubble bath or the old color-faded tiles of a subway, texture can be used as a backdrop or as a centre piece. Either way, these features can look phenomenal through a lens.
6. Animal magic
Pets: they (mostly) always make the cutest subjects for photoshoots, right? Yet, capturing your animal au naturel – i.e. in a non-performative way – can be tricky. The key to successful pet photography is to represent the animal’s character within the picture. Whether it’s the sweet innocence of their gently-closed eyes as they lick your hand – or the way their ears prick up when they’re let off the leash – allow your pet to be themselves. Then, get down to their eye-level. Keep the camera near but not poised. Then, wait.
7. Love is all around
Love, anger, happiness, pain – homes, no matter what their size or make-up, are often abundant with emotion. As families and friends gather under one roof, and relationships are nurtured, the bonds between individuals are leisurely exposed. Keeping your camera and portrait friendly lens handy – a 24 to 70mm is ideal for smaller spaces – to give you the best chance of capturing those soft gazes and exchange of smiles, the gentle touches and full-on embraces.