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We've all been there, wandering around the house aimlessly, wishing there was something interesting to take a picture of. We sigh, and stare at our beautiful camera sitting there, taunting us with its beautiful strap, calling out to be picked up and shouldered.
Then, we throw ourselves onto the couch and peer listlessly out the window wishing we were in Italy, or perhaps Africa. Moscow would be nice this time of year, wouldn't it? There would be lots of photographs there!
But don't fret, friends, because there is hope!
How to Train Yourself to Hunt Down the Perfect Photograph
It is possible to find wonderful interesting photographs right where you live. But how you ask! I live in the middle of nowhere! I've taken pictures of everything there is to shoot.
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No, you haven't!
Consider this for a moment. The world around us changes not just on a daily basis, but minute by minute. The sun moves, the clouds gather, your organized neighbor THROWS his yellow hose onto its holder rather than coiling it because he's in a hurry. Maybe it just rained and that big white arrow painted on the road takes on a new punch!
Learn to Photo Safari
The photo safari is a term we coined for the activity of hunting down interesting photographs wherever you are. Believe it, or not, you've got fascinating images right outside your door, twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week. The art of the photo safari is learning to find them. And it can be QUITE FUN!
So How Do You Photo Safari?
The first step in becoming a photo safari expert is a change of mindset. If you believe there are no interesting photos left in your neck of the woods — if you believe you must travel to an exotic location to find something worth taking a picture of — then you might as well get on the phone with your travel agent. But, if you want to save thousands of dollars in travel expense and find a stunning photograph right outside your door; a photograph worthy of hanging on your wall, listen up.
You've now got the right attitude. So, what now?
5 Tips for a Successful Photo Safari
1. Plan a block of time that you will devote to your photo safari. Clear your mind of all distractions during this block of time. Remember, you're attempting to open your mind, and your vision, to SEEING familiar surroundings in a NEW way. Don't be thinking about what you're going to cook for dinner when you're on photo safari. This is your time.
2. Put on some crappy clothes. Why, you ask? Because you are going on a PHOTO SAFARI! This is about the hunt. Do you normally walk around upright with your camera tucked in a bag, or hanging carefully around your neck? Or, perhaps, you get in your car and aimlessly drive around while only half staring out the window. No! On a photo safari you need to stretch your creative self. Step outside and crawl on your belly. Climb through some bushes and lay on your back. LOOK at the world from a new perspective— whether it's high, low, sideways, or standing on your head. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP we are going to give you for the photo safari— always— ALWAYS— look behind you. We see so many photographers who wander around staring straight ahead. Seventy-five percent of the world is happening behind you. Don't forget to look.
3. Go outside and take that photo safari during a time when you normally wouldn't be out and about. This presents your world in a light that you may never have noticed. Take for example, the photograph of the farmhouse at dusk. It was thirty degrees below zero that day. Trust us; there weren't many people out and about that day. But, it was the atmospheric conditions that created the blue light that enveloped this scene and made the image even more lonely and isolated. We passed that farmhouse hundreds of times and that was the only time it ever looked like that. So, get that camera gear together when it's cold, hot, raining, foggy, before sunrise, after sunset, during a storm, after a storm, in the middle of the night— go when you normally wouldn't.
4. Don't be afraid to talk to people and ask them to participate. Many of us are afraid to ask a stranger (or even somebody we know) to be in a photograph. We think it's embarrassing, especially if we ask them to do something strange. But, most people are interested, AND FLATTERED, if you ask them to be in a photograph. Take for example, the man we photographed with dreadlocks. He was a neighbor we barely knew. One day, while on photo safari, he was out in his yard. We noticed the graphic quality of his bundled hair and asked him if we could photograph him. He was more than happy to oblige. He did think it was a bit strange when we turned him sideways. But when he saw the result, he loved it. Use people in your images. The element of humanity is always interesting especially if done in a unique way.
5. Practice techniques you wouldn't normally use. If you are a stickler for super sharp images, shoot everything out of focus. Put your camera on a tripod and slow that shutter to a second or more. You'll be surprised at how much the world moves. We went on PHOTO SAFARI one afternoon and shot everything through a pair of sunglasses with some fantastic results!
STRETCH YOURSELF FOLKS!
That is the art of the photo safari. Get out of your comfort zone! Don't be afraid. It's easy and a lot of fun! Pretty soon you'll be putting your photo safaris on the calendar, and you won't let anything get in the way!
By Kent DuFault— a professional writer, and photographer, who goes on photo safari with his wife on a regular basis.