Caffeine Priority: Don’t let repetition rob you of your ability to find the beauty in your backyard


posted Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 5:59 AM EDT


Wake up with IR! Here's today's cup of Caffeine Priority...

It's all too easy to forget about the beauty that might exist right in your backyard as you long for a trip to beautiful, faraway exotic lands. After all, you'll make better photos there than at home, right? That's the conventional wisdom, but photographer Daniel Laan wonders if this is really the case. Perhaps you should give your local area another look; it might be more photogenic than you realize.

He recalls a situation in which he and his fiancée were hiking mountains in the beautiful forests of Norway. They came upon a local man -- also a photographer -- hiking with his children and they struck up a conversation. Laan himself is Dutch and the Netherlands are quite flat, so the mountains of Norway were particularly stunning to him. The local didn't seem interested in his backyard, but instead really wanted to travel to the Netherlands to shoot mills and tulips, subjects Laan has "seen too many times" himself.

Their perspectives on two different -- but still beautiful -- photographic subjects raise an interesting point. "Somehow we tend to forget beauty. Somehow we are always looking for more. More excitement and new lands to discover," says Laan. Is it a good thing to get out and travel? Of course! You expand your horizons and get to photograph beautiful new places. Is it necessary to expand your portfolio, though? Absolutely not.

I took this photo at the local nature center, which is about a five minute drive and even shorter hike away from home. I've shot at this stream countless times and sometimes grow bored with it, but a change in perspective can help me rediscover its beauty.

If you're feeling bored with your area and are struggling to find the beauty in it, perhaps try shooting it in a different light. Focus on night photography or a different genre; maybe work on a project that forces you to think more creatively.

Like many things, it's easier said than done. I live about an hour away from coastal Acadia National Park and only slightly further from the beautiful Mt. Katahdin region, yet I often feel the urge to travel to faraway places to take photos. When I was in Iceland in March, I was taking photos of nearly every waterfall while the locals were just going about their daily business, probably thinking, "Jeeze, it's just a waterfall..." It's not dissimilar from when I see someone taking shots in places I now consider "boring" or "bland." To someone else, there's beauty in what I see as mundane. Maybe it's not mundane though. Perhaps the familiarity has just made me not look hard enough to see the local beauty.

(Seen via Fstoppers

Caffeine Priority is a series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!