BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
 

City Photography


Am I the only one that has trouble finding things to shoot in the big city? I live in Montreal and I feel like every time I go out to take a few shots I find myself wondering what the heck to shoot! It's easy to look at the masters and say "if I'd been there I could have made a great photograph too" but it's originality that's hard to create. What kinds of things would you suggest I photograph in a city like Montreal? I feel like I have photographer's block :P


To love this question, log in above
6/10/2005 4:04:58 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  What's your passion or "specialty"?
No matter where you live geographically, you should be able to find something within your level of interest to photograph.

One thing I've found helpful when I get "blocked", is to look closer,...(think macro.)


To love this comment, log in above
6/10/2005 5:20:51 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  I haven't quite developped one yet (no pun intended, honestly) because I'm still a beginner. I'm trying to experiment with as much different material as possible but, as I said in my first post, it's finding the material that's causing me problems. Can you, or anyone else reading this thread, suggest some good beginner/experimentation subjects and material?

Thanks,
Kyle


To love this comment, log in above
6/10/2005 5:23:38 PM

 
Steve McCroskey  
 
 
Hi Kyle!
Some suggestions would be any architectual appealing buildings,botanical gardens,zoos,or wildlife preserves,local colleges or universities,sports arenas,historical landmarks,in other words what ever your interests are!


To love this comment, log in above
6/10/2005 5:37:56 PM

 
Steve McCroskey   Hi Kyle!
Some suggestions would be any architectual appealing buildings,botanical gardens,zoos,or wildlife preserves,local colleges or universities,sports arenas,historical landmarks,in other words what ever your interests are!


To love this comment, log in above
6/10/2005 5:39:56 PM

 
Kay Beausoleil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2004
KayBeausoleilPhotography.com
  Kyle, try Crescent Street this weekend during the Grand Prix. Look for bored faces or guys ogling girls or the cars on display. Go to the Atwater Market really early in the morning. Old Montreal and a calèche. Outdoors at the Nelson Hotel. The botanical gardens. Inside St. Patrick's Basilica -- the wood and the stained glass. Or Mary, Queen of the World. The coming Jazz Festival -- crowd scenes or the musicians performing outdoors. People goofing off at Beaver Lake. The skyline from Longueil at dusk (after the smog alert lifts, or maybe even during; the colours could be great). And isn't there a fireworks festival around this time? Find a great foreground and shoot away.

In short, pretend you're a tourist at home!


To love this comment, log in above
6/10/2005 7:49:25 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  These are all great suggestions, most of which I'd never even thought of. Thanks a lot!

Kyle


To love this comment, log in above
6/10/2005 11:33:46 PM

 
Kevin Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/20/2005
  I live in Chicago. If your a people person the photo ops are endless.
People and pets make great subjects.
Public parks are great places to catch people at play - Frisbe - Softball - Soccer,people flying kites.
I plan on going to the park Sunday.


To love this comment, log in above
6/11/2005 1:23:24 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Hey! Also, it would be fun to get as high as you can and use a long shutter speed if you can. Without flash of course. If you get some roadways in your picture, the lights will be streaked and blurred and you could get some fun pictures. It's interesting to see what happens when you use a tripod in low light conditions, like seeing a small light bleed around a little.

Hope this sparks some thought!


To love this comment, log in above
6/11/2005 2:29:34 PM

 
Maverick Creatives
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/1/2004
  Kyle, I live in Toronto and would trade photo ops with you any day. Aside from the Beautiful French-Canadian ladies your historic city is full of photographic flavor. Pick a topic and do the bus or car thing and photograph church steeples, hotel steeples, bridge spires. Spend brunch photographing sidewalk cafe's at brunch. Go to the pastor and request permission to do church interiors. OR, spend a few years photographing those beautiful bilingual women *smile*.
Montreal is a photographers dream city to shoot in.

Regards
Gary.


To love this comment, log in above
6/11/2005 4:54:35 PM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Kyle,
I've gotten awards for stuff less than 10 feet from the door of my house . . . and some stuff actually inside my home . . . that I've lived in for 10 years.

I live in a small city whose biggest "claim to fame" is an enormous stuffed bull and a giant tree stump put into an exhibit that makes them all but impossible to photograph . . . plus a small covered bridge that's obscured from photographing very easily by trees and undergrowth . . . and finally, going no more than three miles in any direction from the center of town finds one in the middle of dead flat corn and soybean fields. Nevertheless, there's no end of photographic material around me.

The real skill is learning "how to see." Most of us were not born with it, we had to work at it, and never stop working at it. Look for the things, high, low, big and small during early morning, near sunset, and at night . . . all the things that most people overlook in their everyday lives . . . brushing by them in their hectic rush to get from one thing to the next. If you bring those things and the compelling "stories" about them to others with your photography, the rest of the world will beat a path to your door for the photographs.

-- John Lind


To love this comment, log in above
6/11/2005 8:11:53 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  Gary, you are most definitely right about the ladies here ;) I was on Crescent street for Grand Prix weekend today and I probably had to pick my jaw up off the ground at least a couple times. I also really like your idea about brunch photos, there seems to be a lot of culture attached to brunch here in Montreal.

And John, I understand completely what you're saying, I know that I have to develop "the eye." I just don't (well, didn't until I asked the question here) know where to start.

Thanks for all your help everyone!

- Kyle


To love this comment, log in above
6/11/2005 9:54:34 PM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Kyle,
When I see something that appears interesting, I ask myself: Why?
Some things to think about when contemplating that:
(a) Materials: what it's made of
(b) Form(s): its shape(s)
(c) Origin(s): how or why it came to be and how it was built or constructed
(d) Function: what it does, how it interacts with its environment and the purpose it serves

These are a number of "stories" a photograph can tell about something . . . sometimes only one . . . sometimes several simultaneously. Think of them not only in the present, but in the past tense as well (e.g. the purpose it served at some time in the past). Look for symbolism . . . particularly with materials and forms . . . does it look like or make you think about something else, perhaps completely unrelated, or perhaps an intangible concept, emotion or relationship?

If you can articulate what it is you want to express to others about the subject material . . . then you can examine how best to compose the photograph to convey that story to others in a manner that is visually compelling and memorable . . . and if it is to be successful, it must convey these things on their terms (those that see the photograph) . . . how they will react to it . . . so they will receive the message and understand the story about the subject you're trying to deliver to them.

Finally, the photographic process is about light . . . that's all it records . . . and still photography is a slice of time and space captured by recording the light in that space that is there at the time you make it . . . and the purpose of the photograph is to deliver that recording to others at a different time in a different space.

There are times now when I simply "see" something and the photograph visualizes in my mind almost instantly . . . and it's not until later, sometimes weeks later, that I am able to fully understand why what I had visualized was so compelling when I made it.

The reasons for making a photograph can be very simple and quite straightforward or they can be sophisticated and complex with deeper meaning and symbolism . . . and both ends of this spectrum are equally legitimate . . . they depend entirely on the story you're trying to tell about the subject.

-- John Lind


To love this comment, log in above
6/12/2005 12:29:44 AM

 
Kay Beausoleil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2004
KayBeausoleilPhotography.com
  Kyle -- If you can take your eyes off the scenery on Crescent, hop over to Indigo, Chapters or Paragraphe and pick up any of Freeman Patterson's books: Photographing the World Around You or Photography and the Art of Seeing, for instance. Then use 'em!


To love this comment, log in above
6/12/2005 10:10:01 AM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.