Home / Blog / Photo Essay Subject Inspiration: The Best Creative Photo Ideas are Often on Your Doorstep

Photo Essay Subject Inspiration: The Best Creative Photo Ideas are Often on Your Doorstep

The best ideas for photography projects are those that you know, because you understand the subtle moods of the subject and the stories behind the objects.

Often those starting out in photography are intrigued with the equipment and the fabulous images of advanced photographers. They search for the spectacular and exotic while there are a variety of subjects in their own neighborhood.

Photographer’s Eye

As well as learning the technical aspects such as aperture and shutter speeds, photographers need to develop their photographer’s eye. The camera sees the world differently so photographing the familiar enables ongoing comparisons between the real world-view and the photographic representations. This is a way to train the photographer’s eye and it is easy to go back and try new techniques, technical and compositional, as well as new equipment and have a good basis for comparison.

Familiar is not Boring

Too often photographers ignore the immediate and familiar rather than taking time to apply compositional and framing techniques. Photographers re-examine the world from camera’s point of view by getting in close to highlight details or frame a subject with a limited view of the lens. Humans build an overall picture, or create a generalized impression of a scene, while the view of the camera is very specific. Photography forces a very specific choice of angle and point of view rather than an overall impression

Sample photos

The first image shows a city corner with a couple of jeweler’s stores, or this is the normal pedestrian’s view. This photograph allows the viewer to step back and consider the all of the building, including the slightly ornate decoration around the upper windows. This contrasts with the more modern glass display windows of the stores.

The time of day is important because the angle of the sun light highlights the upper stories while shading the stark storefronts that are the normal main viewpoint of pedestrians.

The next image is a an almost abstract representation of a city building. Using a wide-angle lens makes the windows into a geometric pattern seemingly floating in the sky, as the framing removes all contexts for the building so it is not located anywhere.

Then there is the old sandstone church the photographer frequently a passes because it is in the neighborhood. This has the benefit of observing the different moods and events of the church. The recent completion of a restoration project resulted in the building looking better than it has a for years. The timing with the bright sunshine at the right angle gives the old stone a warm texture. Careful framing removed the more modern surrounding buildings and hid the cluttered bus station next door to the church.

Trips to the local post office mean passing this Art Deco corner building with its curving glass brick upper window. Once again, the camera highlights the architectural detail in the upper part of the building and the angle of the sun puts the modern storefront in the shade. The reflections from the white paintwork provided some initial problems with matrix metering and blown highlights. But, after analysis of the early images a change to center weighted metering gave better results when the light conditions were similar.

Expect the unexpected locally. The last photograph is of an unusual vehicle spotted waiting for traffic lights to turn green. This gave enough time to get the camera out, change the lens, and get one shot as they drove past.

Emerging Theme

One popular element in this collection of photographs is upper story windows and this is a possible topic for a photo essay.

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