Many of us travel large distances each year taking photographs, perhaps visiting Windmills in one part of the country taking coastal shots at another and more. Perhaps we should sometimes consider what there is that is very near to home that we should also give some attention to. After all people from other areas are visiting our home areas, while we are visiting theirs.
At a personal level I will always find it necessary to travel quite a lot as I want a wide selection of photographs and have a need for photographs of specific places. The point I suppose I am making in this article is not that this is what we should do, but that its an option. For some there may be more pressing reasons to do more local photography, perhaps a time limit, or a budgetary constraint, or perhaps just the difficulty in getting about.
The term local may represent a different area to different people, to some its their local county to others an area they can get to by car in under say 20 minutes to others it may be where you can reach on a local bus. Of course some may take local to mean the few streets around them. In putting together this article I am considering local to be an area that you can easily and quickly reach, so perhaps under a 20 minute drive or where you can get to with local busses.
In any local area there is far more that you could photograph then there is time in your lifetime to do, and of course a very wide variety of locations, although the opportunities will vary from place to place. In the country perhaps woodland and fields are more immediately available, while to the town dweller a variety of parks may be available, both can of course reach the other option within the term we have classed as local. Everyone in Britain will have local opportunities for wildlife, transport, river and architecture. A very large percentage are also within reach of either the coast or an estuary, and everyone has access to gardens open to the public, and flower photography.
Being located in Cheltenham, perhaps we have more available to us than most, we have the Cotswold scenery, a number of historic sites, parks and lakes, Canals and rivers, the Severn estuary, mainline rail and a steam preservation railways, aircraft, loads of wildlife opportunities and loads of architecture covering a wide range of periods. Every year there are also many events from hill climbs and period events, steam galas, town festivals of all types, a balloon festival, horse racing. On the sporting front we have rugby, cricket and football and more if I was interested enough to find them. Not forgetting the 'cheese rolling' wacky event in May each year. The Fairford Air Tattoo, Roman Cirencester, Cotswold Water Park, and a WWT site at Slimbridge is about on the edge of what we have defined as local.
If you we to stop and list the places that you would tell others they could take photographs of in your local area, the events that take place and other photographic opportunities near you then I am sure you would be able to produce a similarly interesting list.
So what is the point you may ask, well, I have visited and photographed Abbeys in Yorkshire, Shropshire and even Scotland amongst others but until recently never got around to visiting and photographing the local one to me at Hailes Abbey, nr Winchcombe, although I had driven near it hundreds of times. I have also not visited Sudeley Castle and while I have photographed Castles in many other parts of the country, I have photographed fords in many places. I have photographed Oxford colleges but not Cheltenham College, which has many fantastic buildings very similar from the same period........ I am not alone, having spoken to many others, I am aware that many others are the same, we make an expedition to get photographs but leave nearby places for later.
Non photographers often do exactly the same, they go on holiday to the far corners of the country or abroad, but places that are 30 minutes to an hour away are not far enough to call a holiday, and more local places are not even considered.
A few years back now we thought we might as well add on a small picture library covering the Cotswolds to a larger one we were developing, after all there can't be much to taking a few villages and scenic shots can there. So we started with a map, and decided to start in one area and spread the images taken from there. We took villages, scenic shots, landscapes, foot bridges over streams, fords.... we spent a couple of days a week and got a great collection of shots. After a couple of months however we had made no real impact on the overall area. To photograph every place in the Cotswolds would need too far large a project, and this is not allowing for seasonal variations.
Another photographer we met had a project he was working on to photograph all the churches in the county in which he lived. This didn't sound that large a project until you look on a few Ordnance Survey maps and realise just how many there are in just a small area, let alone a county.
There are several advantages in looking at the wide range of photographic opportunities near to us in our local are:-
If you are on a restricted budget or less fit then there are a wide range of other advantages as well, and of course if you are into global warming, global cooling, or an environmental campaigner then leaving your car at home may also appeal.
My own reason to look at this again recently is one of time, with all the other things I need and want to do, I never have as much time to take photographs as I would like and often when trying out new things I travel far too far, when I could do it far more locally.