This might seem to be an impossible question to answer as surely the best location will depend on the type of photography you are doing?
Well…yes and no.
Certainly, iconic locations like Iceland are great for landscape photography and major cities will provide the best opportunities for urban/street photography, but notwithstanding that, I would suggest that no matter which genre of photography you do, the best location is the one you know best.
Whether it is an urban setting, a classic landscape environment, a coastal region or a woodland area, I believe that you will make the most of a location that you know well.
This will be a location that you can visit often, in different seasons, even different times of day.
It will be a location where you have taken lots of photographs.
It will be a location that has enough features to offer plenty of photographic potential.
I have three main reasons for my belief.
1. When you are new to a location, or visiting an iconic location, you need to spend a lot of time getting to know the place, studying the light, searching for compositions, often to discover that the conditions are not right or the composition you thought you would find isn’t there.
When you are familiar with all that a location has to offer you will know the best times to visit, you will be familiar with how the light behaves, you will be able to find compositions that others might miss, and you will be able to return often if a composition alludes you on one visit.
2. When you are familiar with a location you will set out with an area in mind to suit your photography plan. It might be a wooded area one day, a waterfall or riverbank on another occasion, a village close by where people gather or even an isolated spot with easy access. You can practise different types of photography on different occasions knowing that you have many opportunities for experimentation. You can easily scout the area for photographic opportunities, with or without a camera, with the intention of returning when conditions might be more favourable.
One of the best ways to improve at photography is to practice; to get out with your camera and take lots of photographs; to think like a photographer wherever you happen to be. While being in an iconic location, especially if you are there with a tutor, will definitely give you some additional skills, nothing beats having the opportunity to keep getting out and taking pictures.
3. Being familiar with a location and visiting often may sound as though it will become boring and that soon there will be no more images to be found. However, this can be an incentive to increase your creativity as you attempt to find more original compositions.
Instead of shooting a wide scene you might concentrate on a more intimate shot.
You might make an image when there is good light and again when the conditions are dark and moody.
You might go out with a theme or challenge in mind and try to find images to suit that theme in your location. For example, you might set yourself the task of making a minimalist image or trying abstract photography.
In a familiar location that you can visit often it’s easier to take on a project such as photographing the same tree in every season, or it may lend itself to a storytelling project.
A familiar location is well suited to mindful photography, if that’s your thing, as you won’t have the stress of travelling too far and you won’t be anxious about coming back with that great image that you might not have a chance to capture again. You can be relaxed take your photography easy, which is often when you will make your best images.
I have two main photography locations that I know well, can visit often and from which I have many photographs.
The first is a local woodland on a large estate. It is close to my home and offers potential for different types of images. In my last post described how I used this location to approach storytelling through photography.
I can visit for sunrise or sunset, I can visit in all seasons, I can make woodland images, wide vistas or images at one of a number of waterfalls.
I can make close-up images, visit the walled garden to do flower photography, or even try event photography at one of the many special events throughout the year.
I can wander down pathways or along the riverbank and discover an abundance of wildlife and other elements of nature.
I can stroll among the hundreds of native trees and always find an image waiting for me.
I can visit often and use the location for experimentation and to develop new skills.
I can try to become more creative; I can take on a challenge, do abstract photography or find numerous opportunities to do ICM.
I can make mistakes and use them as learning opportunities knowing that I can easily go back and try again.
Many times I go on a photography outing to this location feeling that there is nothing left to photograph, and these are the occasions that have given me some of my best images.
No matter when I visit this location, I find something to capture with my camera.
Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin
My second familiar location is an area in the west of Ireland to which I am a frequent visitor. It is a coastal location with a busy harbour, stunning scenery, a bustling village during summer months, great cliff walks and sea swimming. The weather is changeable, even in summer, every tide brings something different to the landscape and there is always something to photograph.
To sum up:
What do we want from a location?
· Potential for good images
· Variety of different compositions
· Opportunities to use a range of focal lengths and different types of shots
· A place that will help us to improve as photographers
What is the best location for photography?
The location that we know best.