Photography is about seeking new things to shoot, new locations, new genres, and constantly pushing the boundaries of your creativity. So why are we writing an article about reshooting the same locations?
Surely if we want to have variety and depth in our photography we should be seeking out the new, not recycling the old. Well, yes that’s true to a certain extent, however, we are here to tell you that shooting the same place time and time again can also be very beneficial to your photography.
Let me show you two pictures.
Same Location, Different Day
Both were taken at the same location, of the same subject yet both have very different looks. This is the point. Even at the same location, at any time of day, any time of year, you can have very different lighting and compositions.
Let’s delve a little deeper.
“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” ― David Alan Harvey
Why Changing Light and Weather Are Your Friends
Light is our medium and when we are outside it is never a constant. That single fact alone makes shooting the same location infinitely variable. This applies wherever you are in the world, be it the tropics or the poles.
As the light changes through the day, so do the shadows. Our main subject might be in shade in the early morning but as the sun travels across the sky, more and more elements will become lit up.
At the beginning and end of the day, those shadows will be soft, allowing us to find detail in them. Nailing exposure is about holding the highlights yet maintaining something in those shadows.
Around the middle of the day, the light can be harsh, and direct, and the shadows dark and intense. Your subject will look very different at this time of day. Perhaps the light is right for black and white.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The weather also changes. Dark overcast clouds can make our subject look brooding, fluffy white clouds and blue skies give us the picture postcard look. Rain gives us reflections and snow changes a scene so completely it feels like a different place. Light and weather change constantly but can be moderately predictable, allowing us to plan the way we want our images to look.
Once the sun goes down, we have a whole new range of possibilities. If our location is a town or city, there will be artificial light. The look will change from blue hour to pure night. It will also change, again depending on the weather. Cloudy overcast nights tend to reflect a lot of light back into the scene, whilst clear nights give us the opportunity to capture stars or the moon at our location.
Change Angles and Perspective for More Interesting Shots
Two of the variables we have complete control over when reshooting the same location are angle and perspective. Walk a few meters left or right and a scene can look entirely different. Swap out a wide angle for a telephoto, move back and your perspective will have changed.
When we revisit a location we often default to what worked best the last time.
However, changing your position allows you to think about entirely different compositions. Are there some leading lines in play? Can some tree branches be used as a framing device? Can we shoot wide and incorporate some negative space?
Sometimes, you can think a little out of the box and represent that oft-visited location in an entirely different way. This article about the Glimpses of London project shows how you can convey the familiar by shooting the less familiar.
As you can see, despite shooting in the same location, we can challenge our creativity to come up with new ways to capture that place. Not only through angles and perspective but also via depth of field and shutter speed. Does the scene have moving water or passing clouds, if so a slow shutter speed can make the scene look very different? Perhaps there is fast-moving traffic or light trails. Both can be captured in different ways
Better Images from Changes Through The Year?
If you live anywhere outside of the tropics then you will also get gradual, but ultimately dramatic changes in your location through the year. We travel through the blossom and flowers of spring to the leafy green days of summer, to the orange/yellow of autumn, and to the sparse blue light of winter.
Each season can make the same place look very very different. The bare winter trees can open up vistas not seen in summer. The autumn leaves and spring flowers can make fantastic framing devices or even secondary subjects.
The hours of daylight change through the seasons as well. The golden hours can be long and drawn out in the summer. However, they can occur at quite anti-social hours, especially in the mornings. In winter light and dark comes fast, meaning you need to work quickly to take advantage of the conditions.
Challenge Yourself With A Project
So with all the above information in mind, why not challenge yourself to shoot the same location, multiple times? Set yourself a project. It might be shooting the same composition at different times of day at the same time of year. It could be to shoot the same composition at different times of the year or in different weather conditions.
Not sure what to shoot for a project? Take a look at Light Stalking Projects for some ideas.
You might shoot the same place over several consecutive days, each day, challenging yourself to come up with a different composition. Take different lenses on different days to push you outside of your comfort zone. Many of us have a go-to lens, try leaving that at home.
Not everyone has the good fortune to live in a stunning part of the world. However, there will always be a place that is close to your photographic heart, wherever you live. By trying to capture it under as many different conditions as you can think of and at as many different angles you can find, you will find yourself inspired to shoot more and more creatively. That can only be a good thing.