Working Close to Home

September 23rd, 2011 by Steve Gettle

No doubt about it, outdoor photographers love to travel to new and exciting locations to capture the subjects they love.  But 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.

But 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 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 the ability to be out working more often.  It is impossible to make great pictures if you are not in the field working.  Another important benefit of working close to home is the ability to go out on a moment’s notice, say when the lighting is really nice, or during unique weather conditions.  Also, you can 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 you can photograph that patch of wildflowers when they are at their peak.


Another benefit to working an area close to home is the ability to develop the area to suit your needs. Get permission to put up some feeders and birdhouses to attract birds to the area.  Often times you can obtain permission from a developer to rescue wildflowers from an area that is going to be developed into yet another subdivision or strip mall.  Take these rescued flowers and transplant them onto suitable habitat where you will be able to photograph them.  Sure, this is a long term prospect, but you will find these small steps pay off over the long haul and pay out huge photographic dividends.


All of the images used to illustrate this post were taken on a small (20 acre) parcel of land less than a five minute drive from my home. I have made thousands of images in this location. These images were chosen simply to show the diversity of work that can be created on a smaller piece of land.


Remember to look at our own backyards with fresh eyes, the eyes of a traveler.  Keep in mind that your backyard could be someone’s desired travel destination. Try to look at things with the eyes of a visitor.  You’ll be surprised by what you see!

Browse Steve’s images, read his blog, and learn about his workshops at his site



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One Response to “Working Close to Home”

  1. Chris says:

    If I didn’t use my backyard as a “studio” I wouldn’t use my camera nearly enough to justify it’s existence. Great article and couldn’t agree more.

    The habit here is to get out and look. Just like practicing with your camera to learn the tricks by looking what is around you you can snap shots of things others that are in the same will never think to see and ask where you went to get that shot.

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