One of the greatest aids to becoming a good photographer is to create images of what you find around you. Photograph what interests you, what you can find easily in your day to day life. We are used to seeing what is around us with our eyes, but need to learn how to see what is around us with our cameras. Photograph something that intrigues you from all angles- from the side or up high, from down low or a strange angle. Move close, move away… play.
Me, I like birds, so I take pictures of my local common birds. They are easy, yet challenging, and even better- I learn about their behavior as I try to see how close or how expressive I can make my photographs. I create portraits of my local sparrows.
And I don’t stop there. I also photograph the various gulls that I see on the beach. The Blackbirds that land in the grasses and willows not so far from my house. Even though I’ve captured great images of more “interesting” and even rare and endangered birds, I will keep shooting photos of these more common locals, and not just for a single reason, but for many.
It’s always good to stay in practice. The more we are handling our cameras and viewing the results of our actions, the more reliably we can take the types of photographs we want. If I go a week without really taking any photographs, I can notice a difference in how many times I click the shutter before I get the image I want. When I am shooting regularly, things just seem to “click” better.
As I learn to follow the behavior of my local birds, I can predict their actions better, which means I can be ready when they are about to do something interesting. I learn clues that help me prepare for those “moments.” And I find that learning the behavior of one bird helps me to also understand how other, similar species of bird may act.
Another bonus to learning and photographing your local birds is that it makes it easier to notice when an uncommon bird comes around. It helps us to be ready and to notice things that are different.
What is common where I live, may be a nearly unheard of species where someone else lives. By taking a photograph of a common, local bird or object, you are creating something that can be shared with others that might not ever have a chance to experience it otherwise. I live near the ocean, so I have many types of shorebird and seabird that I encounter. I travel an hour inland, and see species that I never even realized lived so closely, that I’d never seen before. Different habitats, different birds. If I go even farther- say to the East Coast or to a different country, the differences can be even greater.
Finally, someone, someday has to take the best photograph ever of that local species of bird… why shouldn’t it be you?