Story and photographs by Steve Gettle
No doubt about it, most outdoor photographers love to travel to new and exciting locations to capture the subjects they love. But, the truth of the matter is that most of us can’t be jetting all over the globe whenever we want. Most outdoor photographers I know are able to take one, two, or maybe three major trips a year. Sadly, I also know many photographers that only use their cameras when they are on one of these major trips.
I would argue that those same photographers are missing one of the greatest locations available to them… their own backyard. Most of us live within a short drive of a local park or a piece of undeveloped land where we could practice our craft. There are many benefits to working an area near your home. One of the greatest benefits is simply being out there working, it is impossible to make great pictures if you are not in the field. Another important benefit of working close to home is the ability to go out on a moment’s notice – when the lighting is really nice, or during unique weather conditions. You can also get to know a smaller piece of land and its inhabitants more intimately. You can make sure you are there when the cardinals nest in that bush, or when that patch of wildflowers are at their peak.
Consider developing the area to suit your needs. Try getting permission to put up some feeders and birdhouses to attract birds to the area. You can often obtain permission from a developer to rescue wildflowers from an area that is going to be developed into another subdivision or strip mall. Take these rescued flowers and transplant them onto suitable habitat where you will be able to shoot them. Sure, this is a long term prospect, but you will find these small steps payoff over the long haul with huge photographic dividends.
We all need to look at our own backyards with fresh eyes – with the eyes of a traveler. Remember that your backyard is very often someone else’s hot travel destination. Try to look at things with the eyes of a visitor and you will often be surprised by what you see.