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Reflections on How Photography Can Enrich a Familiar Place

“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.” Ralph Hattersley

I’m writing this on my return from spending some time in a place that I love, a place that I return to every year to relax, unwind and take some photographs.

This place is Mullaghmore , Co. Sligo, Ireland.

During the time that I spend here each year I take the opportunity to get out early, regardless of the weather, and see what images I can make.

I try to capture some sunsets, which, when they happen, are a fabulous feature of this part of the world.

Here I have a coastal landscape, mountains, cliffs, winding roads, a busy harbour with lots of water activities going on, and an abundance of one of my favourite subjects – boats – to work with.

Being in this place always calms my mind, helps me to de-stress and re-focus, and it presents many opportunities for mindfulness and mindful photography.

One of the real benefits of taking my camera on this vacation is that my photography becomes one of the highlights of my time here.

While I enjoy walks along the cliffs, immersing myself in the beautiful coastal surroundings, eating good local seafood and exploring new places, it is my photographs that bring emotional solace, and they stay with me to rekindle my memories throughout the year.

My camera is a tool that grounds me in the moment and helps me to appreciate each moment more fully.

While making pleasing images is my goal, I do enjoy the process; I enjoy putting my learning into practice, experimenting, discovering new ways of doing things, evaluating the success or failure of my efforts.

I experimented with shutter speed as the waves crashed against the rocks

When photography becomes a way to experience a place it enriches that experience.

By spending time observing, becoming aware of the physical features of the place, feeling the emotions associated with the location, I find myself connecting in a particular way with the landscape.

During my stay in this part of my country I became a little more familiar with the ocean, with rocks and coastal vegetation, with light, sunsets, a full moon reflected on the water and magical misty mornings.

I encountered people who live here, whose livelihoods depend on those who visit, and visitors who were experiencing what this place has to offer.

On this occasion I was privileged to be able to capture a slice of daily life as I wandered over the cliff tops. The horse had been happily grazing when he heard the sound of a car coming. I watched as he became aware of whose car it was and began to make his way over to his owner. She kindly let me take their picture

One of the joys of photography is that it helps you to see in a new way. You discover new things, often minute details previously unnoticed, and you become aware of new perspectives on familiar things.

This is true regardless of our location, but when you are in a place that you love, a place that is familiar but is a contrast to your home environment, photography makes this a richer place, a place of abundance, not just for what it yields in terms of images but as a totally immersive, almost spiritual, life experience.


I hope you enjoyed these reflections and that they will encourage you to use photography to enrich your experience of familiar places.

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