How to Photograph Somewhere You’ve Been to a Hundred Times Before

TL;DR: Open Your Eyes

Darryl Brooks
Nov 8, 2020 · 4 min read
Image by Author

We just went back to a place we own on the coast of Georgia. We’ve owned it for about twenty years and go down a few times a year. It’s a small island, and the area we frequent even smaller. There are many beautiful things and places to photograph, but I’ve done them so many times, it’s hard to get a new image.

But still, I try.

The pier is a great example. I took this shot many years ago. It was, in my humble opinion, as good as it was going to get. But I can’t help but shoot it every time I go, and I try to see it differently. Fortunately, there are at least five angles I can shoot it from on land and two or three from the pier itself. Being on the island’s southern tip, it gets gorgeous morning and evening light, with both the sunrise and sunset visible from it. The sunset is particularly lovely as it incorporates the magnificent Sydney Lanier Bridge. This suspension bridge crosses the shipping channel between the Atlantic Ocean and the busy port of Brunswick, Georgia.

Image by Author

This lighthouse is another example. I took THE shot the first time I came down here, but I shoot it again and again. There are literally 360 degrees from which to shoot it and from a variety of angles. Again, it gets morning and evening light.

Image by Author

Finally, there is this row of old oak trees draped with Spanish moss. I took my best photo of this scene the first time I saw it. Interestingly, we had been there many years before I stumbled across it after taking a wrong turn. It’s basically at the turnaround of a dead-end road leading to one of the island’s golf country clubs. Since then, I always go back trying to find it in a different light. I am still the only person on the beach wishing for overcast skies.

Image by Author

But whether the place you frequent has iconic architecture or amazing nature scenes to shoot, you’ve seen it and done it dozens, perhaps hundreds of times. What then?

Open your eyes.

Don’t just see, look. Pay attention. Don’t see it as a frequent visitor, but as if you are seeing it for the first time. Back up and take in vistas. Come in tight for details. Change things up. There is always something new or a way to shoot it you haven’t done before.

The beach on St Simons isn’t pretty like those on the gulf coast, but pulling back to get a wide shot, makes it look like a postcard. Or I focus on individuals and try to find a good background. There are beautiful marshes that can be lovely when the tide and the light come together simultaneously. At other times, I can come in tight on egrets, herons, and otters.

Image by Author

A few years back, we moved into a new, small community. There is a circular walk in the neighborhood that measures about half a mile. I walk it anywhere from two to ten times a day. Every day. Do the math. And yet, at least once a month, something catches my eye that I hadn’t seen before. Last autumn, the dew on this maple tree had me running back home for my camera.

Image by Author

I try to get in the habit of taking my camera with me, but after many days of not shooting, I tend to leave it at home. Still, there are times I wish I had it. One morning, as I made the turn in the back cul-de-sac, the morning light was cutting through the wetland forest behind us. It was striking a vine growing up a pine tree with dark red foliage. I didn’t get my camera. And I never saw that exact light again.

It doesn’t matter how many times you have seen the same place; you can always see it with fresh eyes. With a new vision. Open your eyes. Look. Really look around. You will be amazed at all of the new and exciting things there are you haven’t photographed yet.

The Digital Photographer

Tips, Tricks and Tutorials to Make You a Better Photographer

Sign up for The Digital Photographer

By The Digital Photographer

The Digital Photographer Newsletter Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Darryl Brooks

Written by

Photographer & Writer-I shoot what I see-I write what I feel. Top writer in Photography, Art, Creativity, Productivity, Self Improvement, Business, Life Lessons

The Digital Photographer

Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials to Make You a Better Photographer. From beginners through intermediate photographers, this publication will provide articles to help you become a better photographer and meet your photography goals. Top Writer in Photography and Creativity

Darryl Brooks

Written by

Photographer & Writer-I shoot what I see-I write what I feel. Top writer in Photography, Art, Creativity, Productivity, Self Improvement, Business, Life Lessons

The Digital Photographer

Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials to Make You a Better Photographer. From beginners through intermediate photographers, this publication will provide articles to help you become a better photographer and meet your photography goals. Top Writer in Photography and Creativity

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store