“There’s nothing for me to shoot, there aren’t anything interesting around me”
“You’re so lucky! You live in an interesting place where there’s so much going on!”
“If I only have a better lens, I can shoot nice pictures like him”…
We’ve all said the same things one time or another, especially when we think we don’t have enough camera gear or opportunity to travel, etc. We all know the simple fact that the reasons were telling ourselves are merely excuses, nothing more.
Anything your eyes can see, you have a chance to photograph in an interesting manner as long as you give it a shot and force yourself to find angles and lighting that you normally take for granted.
I’ll show some examples that can be done with very minimal equipment and a pocket camera. No expensive DSLR, no expensive lenses, no complex lighting, no sophisticated subjects. Hopefully, the samples can give you more inspiration to take better pictures. All images are shot with a Panasonic Lumix LX3 pocket camera and basic equipment. The image below shows what I used for most of the still-life examples below. While these are not exemplary images, they do offer you some insights on what can be shot around the house and neighborhood.
I’d like to add a disclaimer as well. This article applies to many newcomers of photography, as well as those who haven’t found a niche that they like to concentrate on. Naturally, if you’re interest is wildlife photography, you won’t find them in your backyard, neither will waterfalls and corals. :)
We all go out and eat at a restaurant, even coffee shops can offer a lot of creative subjects. The food are professionally prepared and they’re often decorated when served, before touching your food, set your pocket camera to “macro” mode and practice your composition. Best when done outdoors or places with ample light, so try to get a seat near large windows if you can.
Still Life at Home
Grab your keys, your utensils, anything old and rusty. They’re all great subjects to do at home, they won’t need much space, light, nor equipment, either. How about your cellular phone, your other camera equipment, or your musical instruments? They’re all readily available for you to shoot.
Gems and Jewelry
Jewelry, watches, and other precious stones are great subjects to photograph because they have so much textures to consider. The following shots required a small chair, a garment clip, a diffusing cloth, and a canvass shopping bag as props. The table-top tripod wasn’t used for these shots though.
Just get out of your house or office, stay within a kilometer or less, you’re bound to find something interesting to shoot. Want to narrow it down? Try shooting primary colored subjects only, subjects with red, green, yellow, and blue hues only will narrow your options tremendously. Work on making the color work for your image, not against it.
There are many others to consider, such as repeating patterns, contrasting subjects (tall and short together in all images), and others. The key is to find a “theme” or objective before you go out and press the shutter button. Mindlessly shooting without a purpose nor objective will result to random images that won’t stir your creativity nor inspiration.
A lot of us are extremely motivated whenever we buy a new piece of equipment. When a new lens arrives, we’ll go out of our comfort zone to find macro subjects. When we buy a flash unit, we’ll search high and low for lighting techniques. When we get that new wide angle lens, we try to find a reason to capture sweeping landscapes. When the novelty of the new piece of equipment vanishes, we start finding reasons of not being able to take better pictures, pointing the lack of certain equipment or the obsolescence of whatever we currently own.
We know the gears we have aren’t the reason of why our photos stagnate or lack the “umpphh” factor, it’s the fact that we choose not to challenge ourselves and motivate ourselves to shoot better pictures. If you have wads of cash and can afford gear-lust to be your motivation, go get more gear if that makes you shoot more! If you don’t have the luxury of piling up equipment, then we better find creative ways to keep ourselves on track with our goal of improving
If you’re not challenged, you won’t be motivated, if you’re not motivated, you’ll find excuses, if you found an excuse, you’ll always find new excuses to not get better. So challenge yourself, motivate yourself, set simple goals and get excited on your photographic journey!