How To Easily Photograph Your Home City
Why not photograph your city. That’s either the city you were born in, grew up in, or the one you live in now. You don’t need to wait to go to another town, to take photographs.
Your city is as good as any other to take photographs of. I bet there’s thousands of people who visit where you live and find plenty to shoot there.
Walk about with your camera and try to discover what visitors find and make images of. You walk past great subjects everyday, and they’re so familiar that you don’t notice them.
There are many city photography ideas, cityscape photography, street photography, or photographs of people there. There’s also events and occasions, and many more.
There’s no reason why your imagination won’t be fired up in the same way as elsewhere.
Your own city will be familiar
You’ll be very familiar with your own city. There will be no need to get to know where you are, and where to go. You just simply go where you want.
If you’re a stranger in a city you might have to look for restaurants. You might have to use public transport, and find out when and where.
On your own patch all of this will be known to you. it will be possible to be more productive with your time.
If you’ve got an hour to spare you can take photographs. That won’t be possible if you have to travel to shoot.
You can go out earlier in the morning, and stay out later, if you’re on a day trip. This will allow you go shoot in the golden hour.
You’ll know the short cuts, and the easy ways to get around. This knowledge will help your productivity.
You know where to photograph in your home city
There’s little or nothing in your city that you don’t know, or at least know of.
All the important landmarks will be well know to you. This will give you a head start over visitors.
With this knowledge you can be totally productive rather than spending time finding places.
There are lesser known sites that are interesting also, that only residents will be familiar with.
All this will allow you to complete a thorough project.
You’ve got plenty of time
When you go away to take photographs, you’ll be limited to the time you spend there. Even if it’s a holiday for several weeks, it’s still a limited time.
However, when you photograph your city, you can go out as often as you like. On a given day, your time might be short, but there’s always tomorrow or next week.
It’s unlikely that you have nothing else to do, and that you spend all your time at this. Make it an ongoing project, build it up over time.
When you have an hour to spare grab your camera and take a walk. Even if you only get one image, it’s a new one.
Next time you do the same thing, go in a different direction. It’s so easy to fall into a routine and always do the same thing. Bringing your camera should stop that.
Get different photographs of your city
If you go away to photograph another city, the photos may not be what you wanted. Perhaps the weather didn’t oblige, and you got little, or the wrong photos.
At home, you can wait until the weather is right. It will always be right ay home, because it will let you a variety of photos.
Away, you’ll want that nice summery shot. You can build a portfolio of different shots of a given subject when you photograph your own city.
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Holiday shots of bad weather won’t look good, but taken at home and they might. Obviously there’s no guarantee any photo will be good, but any one might.
Over time you can photograph parts of town in a variety of different kinds of weather. You can have shots in sunshine, in rain, with snow, or very strong wind.
Photograph the local and little known ares
To take a city photo, there’s bound to be a plethora of suitable sites in your city. There are in every city, so yours won’t be any different.
There will be some great scenery to photograph in your city. Some will be well known and attract visitors, but you’ll know some lesser known ones.
The city centre will probably have most of the well know architecture. Go and photograph it. It won’t all be there, you’ll know where it is though. You can shoot it as well.
There will be industrial areas, suburbs and other areas that visitors will know little about. It’s your city so you will know them. You’ll build a more varied portfolio than if you just save your camera for your holidays.
There are historical sites. Now tourists and visitors will know the obvious ones. You’ll know the lesser, off the beaten path ones.
Regardless of how much history is attached to a place there’s probably only two or three really well known incidents. There’s probably some lesser known, but yet significant ones.
I live in Galway City, Ireland. All the photographs in this article are ones I shot in Galway. I bring a camera whenever I go for a walk.
Some of the well known historic events in Galway’s history include; When Cristopher Columbus visited, and when the Mayor had his own son hanged.
Here’s two lesser known ones.
The first is called the Bollingbroke Fort, and was constructed in 1651. It was built by the Cromwellian Army in order to capture Galway.
I live less than a mile from here and I never knew about. In 2012 I found a recently erected plaque marking the spot. It’s not very remarkable.
The monkey and the baby
The second one is not very well known either. It concerns the same Lynch family that’s in the story
The story goes that the house caught fire. There was a pet monkey there as well as a baby. The monkey rescued the child and fled through a window.
The photograph is of a sculpture on the building showing the rescue.
This building is still known as Lynch’s Castle and is right on the main street, Shop Street. Now it’s home to a bank.
Recreate vintage photographs of your city
Cameras have been around for almost two hundred years now. There’s been an enormous number of photos taken in your town. Some of them are very old.
Even photos from twenty five or thirty years ago will look dated now. The cars will look dated. The fashion will be long gone. Some of the buildings will be replaced.
Try to find some of those vintage photographs. Many of them could be stored in libraries or museums. Local newspapers will definitely have a stack of them.
Collectors will often publish books of the photos in their possession. Local historians will also source and publish them in books.
In the age of the internet it’s more than likely that many of them have made their way into cyberspace. they should be easy to locate.
Try to get copies
Try and get to see some of them. Get copies if possible. You should be able to view those online right on your smartphone.
Go and try to recreate some of them. When you get to the location you can check the online ones on your phone.
Some of the places will be almost the same. It’s just a matter of studying the phone to get the exact location and angles.
Other places will be completely different. Do you best to figure out the exact location and shoot in the proper direction.
These are great photographs to get. Paired with the old photo they could be very popular for generations.
Photograph the same subjects throughout the year
As well as trying to recreate vintage photographs, try to recreate your own in different seasons. Things constantly change throughout the different seasons of the year.
The year starts in the northern hemisphere with little growth and bare trees. The green colour which dominates much of the year is scarce.
This all begins to change in Spring. It’s a gradual change at first, but soon there’s a riot of colour where there was drabness. Late spring is the most colourful time of year.
Summer is dominated by the green of all the trees. They’re challenged by all the colours displayed by flowers.
In Autumn the flowers die away. The green of the trees change to brown, red, orange and yellow before disappearing. In some ways it’s even more colourful than late Spring.
The year ends as it begun, with winter. It’s not all bad but it is the least likeable of the seasons.
Go out and photograph your city right through the year. Shoot the same subjects in the different seasons. Now it’s better to do this where there’s trees and flowers. City streets will look mush the same at any time.
Off course you could go out on a very sunny day in winter. There will be one, so be ready for it. Then go on a wet day in summer, and get a wintry looking photo.
Shoot local events
There will be local events in you city throughout the year. All cities have their share of parades, festivals, sporting occasions and various other celebrations.
These will be known far beyond the city. Photographers from elsewhere can come to these. If there’s only a handful, that’s easy, but if there’s a lot, it’s a bit of a commitment.
Living right in the city where it’s happening gives you an advantage. You won’t need accommodation, parking, (possibly), time to get there, or get caught with the wrong clothing.
You just have to walk down the street, or maybe for a mile, and you’re there. O K, you might have to take public transport, but you’ll know where and when to get it.
And if there’s a lot of events to photograph in your city during the year, it’ll be mostly the same. The bus journey might be a little longer, or in a different direction, but you’ll still have an advantage.
Don’t forget the people
When you go out with your camera you will meet friends and acquaintances. You may get involved in talking to them at times. This isn’t all bad.
Try to get them to let you photograph them. Don’t ask the same person every time you meet them, especially if that’s often. They can only say yes or no.
There will also be other people worthy of being photographed around town. Buskers are always interesting, and probably won’t mind being snapped, especially the ones drawing a crowd.
There’s no town that doesn’t have it’s share of attention seekers. You’ll know some of the local ones, and they’re not going to be hiding away. They’re likely to ask to be photographed, again and again.
As well as have visitors shooting the local people, why not get a photo of some tourists. If they’re asking others to pose, they might oblige themselves.
Taking photographs of people will be different from just shooting cityscapes. It will add variety and depth to your project.
There’s more photo opportunities outside town
You will also be familiar with the rural area outside but close to town. There’s bound to be great photo opportunities there.
Some of these will be known to visitors, through guides, news stories, and various means. They won’t know them all though.
You might be able to find gems that aren’t widely know, even to the local population. Go and photograph them.
Some things like mountains or lakes are likely to be largely unknown. But not every geographical feature is big and prominent.
There may be lovely but discreet ponds that you know about. You may come across ones you didn’t know about by asking other local people if they know any.
Some wooded areas are big and prominent, but others are much smaller and off the beaten path.
There are small rural roads which don’t look very interesting. A lot are just like that. When you drive into some though, there can be surprising features like amazing scenery, maybe a mile in.
Do take photographs of other cities
At the beginning of this article I said not to wait until you visit another city to take photographs. I hope you didn’t think I meant never to go away to shoot images.
If you get the opportunity, off course you should. Just don’t put your camera away until you visit somewhere else.
If you travel to city where you can get to and back in a day, take advantage of that. You can do this often, so you could start an ongoing project there too.
Go often enough, and you might be able to engage in an ever increasing project there too. It might even be easier to do that than shoot at home.
When you travel a greater distance it won’t be as easy. Time and local knowledge will be against you. You can go back several times and build a decent portfolio nevertheless.
No matter what, or how many others you choose, do photograph your home city. It’s the only city project that you can work on continuously even with a working window of half an hour.
Some similar blog posts
There are other blog posts about how to photograph your city. Here are three that you might like to check out;
When you photograph your city, show them off
Photographs don’t belong on a hard drive, in an undeveloped roll of film or in a shoe box. They should be presented and shown.
One way is to print them and mount then in an album, or multiple albums. This is a traditional way of displaying photographs.
It’s a good way, but not many people will see them. Some family and friends might, but beyond that, few will.
You probably shoot with a digital camera. Film is still used, but by a minority of photographers now. How things have changed in a short time.
Digital photographs are best shown online. There are plenty of options available if that’s what you want to do.
Some of the options
Before I go into the options I must disclose that I use affiliate links on this website, and there are some on this page. This means that if you click on one and buy something from the website it refers you to, I will get a little payment. You will not pay any extra than you would have if you had gone straight to the website you bought from. This is how I make a living. Check the Affiliate Disclaimer.
One option is to use a free gallery. There are many available including these five. Most of them have a limit to the number of photos or amount of storage included. Beyond that you’ll have to pay. The free plans are generous though
Start a website or blog
I use affiliate links on this website, and there are some on this page.
If you click on one and buy something from the website it refers you to, I will get a payment.
You will not pay any extra for your purchase.
A second way is to start a website or a blog. There are free and paid for options here too. Some have free or paid for versions. The best free ones are;
Another option is wordpress.org. This is fee and regarded as the very best option. However you will have to get an independent hosting account for your site. Two of the best hosts around are;