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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.