Today I woke up and was so happy to see my friendly weather girl reporting the temps were soaring to 74 degrees. My soul did a happy dance. Maybe spring really is here?! I opened the windows, turned on the radio, and forced my children outside, only allowing them to come inside to sleep, eat, or if there was blood.
We are an outdoorsy family and have a yard that’s a little out of the ordinary. We live on a small farm with fields and open skies as far as the eye can see. We are not at a shortage for places to explore but I totally get that this isn’t the scene everyone has. However, even if your green space is an apartment patio or a neighborhood lot, there’s still so much for you to see and be inspired by just by walking outside. And don’t give me an eye roll here, person that doesn’t think they have awesome outdoor inspiration, you totally do.
First of all, let’s just appreciate how awesome nature is. Even if you cringe at the thought of camping or hiking or bugs or being hot, the fact that animals and plants just push on, exist, and survive the winter and extreme conditions is pretty inspirational in itself. I whine all winter and I have a coat and a wood stove for relief, but there are the trees, just getting pounded by the snow, looking deader than a doornail only to come back spectacularly in the spring. Trees make me feel like such a wimp.
Back to the matter at hand: finding inspiration by going outside of our homes. Whether it’s a backyard or your have to take a walk around an apartment building, here are a few ways that getting outside can inspire you to pick up your camera:
1. Look for signs of the season
The plants, the animals, the details all around…how does spring (or whatever season you are in) look and feel? I typically edit in black & white, but getting outside to document a new season always makes me feel inspired to edit in color and show the new colors that nature is gifting me.
2. Give yourself a specific task
If you aren’t sure where to start when going outside, try looking for textures, patterns or colors. Regardless of how large or small your space is, these elements are everywhere. On bricks, bark, fences, etc. Get close and shoot wide. If you’ve taken 100 photos of a rose bush, how can you do it differently?
3. Get creative
Something I like to do when I’m shooting outside is play with focus, shutter speeds, and exposure. This is an awesome time to try freelensing or pick up that lensbaby that usually just sits in your bag feeling sad and neglected.
For the last few days, we’ve looked at all the ways that your home, flawed and amazing at the same time, can be your source of photographic inspiration. Here’s the most important takeaway: do these exercises for the process, not a perfect product. Have fun, let yourself mess up, learn, and take deep inspirational breaths. Sometimes the biggest creative push can be just allowing ourselves to slow down, look around, and appreciate all of the good stuff that’s already there. Your life is a treasure trove of creative goodness, you just have to see it.
Happy shooting, inspirational breathing, and spring!
Ashley Manley is a serial personal project shooter with a love for documenting real moments on her small farm in Central Illinois. Aside from her family, the loves of her life are her fuji X-T2, fujinon 23mm lens, helping other photographers to stay inspired, all the black and white things, and wine in a box. She left social media at the beginning of 2017 but she loves new friends, so visit her website and shoot her an email already!