After I go on a photo shoot, I habitually send my mom pictures of the pretty flowers or the scenes that I visit. When I sent her pictures of this field of wildflowers, she said to me, "You sure do have a talent for finding these places." Her comment amused me. I seriously doubt it's a talent; it's a power of observation that I more than likely picked up as a photographer. So how do I find these hidden gems or any of my shooting locations? Some of my "secrets" are pretty obvious and not true secrets … If you would like to learn how to "discover" new places, here are my three tips.
Tip one: Use tools available to you, like Google Maps! That's right - it's free and almost everyone has it or has access to it. Many of my photography trips start this way. I begin with a more formal search for botanical gardens, arboretums, and green spaces, and make a list of the places I'd like to visit. If you're someone who prefers well-planned adventures to spontaneous ones, this tip is for you!
Tip two: Another great tool that anyone can access is social media. Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, for some locations, an innocent post including the location can lead to destruction from careless people trampling over the land. Fortunately, I've revisited this site several times and haven't seen another soul, except for the people walking on the path adjacent to this field of flowers. Nevertheless, it was all thanks to a Facebook post that I found out the City of Elizabethton set aside land for wildflower meadows right in town.
Tip three: Keep your eyes open! My third tip is simply to get out there and observe, look around, and discover. Take a walk, hike, bike, or drive around and explore. One of my favorite things to do is to take a drive in an area I have never been before and enjoy taking in new sights. It certainly beats the boredom of the daily commute and might lead to beautiful new discoveries.
One of the top skills I've learned as a photographer is to observe the world around me. From taking in the grander scenes to noticing how the light shines on the smallest of flowers, observation is crucial. Not only does observation enhance awareness in photography, but it also does so in other aspects of life. Always maintain a sense of wonder and openness to discovering new things in the world, and life will continue to offer moments to cherish.