Being a city dweller, it’s probably not a surprise that the focus of much of my photography is city based. However, I did find the opportunity to take photos in a rural setting a welcome break from what I would normally photograph.
Being taken out of my ‘natural’ environment can push my photography in ways I wouldn’t have expected. It can present challenges I wouldn’t normally find in a city space.
Many of the photographic principles remain the same. Make sure the light is behind you; using the one-third / two-thirds rule when setting up a shot; shutter speed and ISO level; objects in focus; etc.
With a different subject matter, though, the photographer is freed from the usual constraints of familiar territory – busy streets; light behind buildings; etc. Buildings and concrete where replaced by hills, fields, cattle, country lanes and the odd building. Getting different angles of the landscape can mean walking miles, rather than street blocks.
While it can be easy to make the rural setting idyllic and fit into my own stereotypes and notions of what it should be, I found myself photographing it in an honest way.
Being in a different environment can also make you look at your own work in a different way. It can challenge you in how you frame things; it can push your creativity in unexpected ways.
You may notice things that you wouldn’t notice before. Even in cities, there is an interaction between the concrete and nature. I am always amazed that nature creeps in and finds places to grow in the cracks and crevices of a city, outside of the designated park area.
Developing and style and specialising in an area of expertise isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, the downside is a photographer may become a bit stagnant and repeat what is tried and tested. Trying new techniques or even photographing what you wouldn’t normally can be insightful, even if it’s not successful. It’s a learning process.
A couple of years ago, I went to an Annie Leibovitz exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Anne is best known for her portraits of the famous. However, in the exhibition, she had a few photos of the Grand Canyon, which surprised me and challenged my expectation of her. They may not have been her strongest work, but I do respect her for trying something different, and having the courage to show the rest of us.
Pushing your creative boundaries can be very insightful, even when it’s not the most successful work you may do.
To view my photos of the South Downs in Sussex.