Since I got my first camera and had no idea what I was doing, I have always shot a lot of photos. I got better at it over time. Even with a camera in my phone, I still don’t go anywhere without a camera ‘just in case’ – Social media not withstanding photography is a great reason to get out of the house on purpose, it is also a dandy add on activity if you are already out of the house. Instagram and Facebook are nice outlets for sharing but you may feel embarrassed that your images are good enough or interesting enough to share. Shooting images for one’s own enjoyment makes you less self conscious about what you are shooting and why. So shoot anyway, with digital you can always delete it afterwards.
BTW I encourage you to delete all your ‘extra’ images. Even my hard drive has a large percentage of useless images. Choose the few you like and delete all the out of focus and extraneous images. If you don’t, you end up with folders filled with junk and you can’t find anything.
I keep coming back to that piece of advice I was given: When you head out to take photographs, have a destination in mind, even if you don’t get there. So, I have a few photography TO DO lists, that I pull out of my bag when I am out and about.
I moved to Maine only knowing about 4 people. I had wanted to move here since I was about 12 and was reading lots of Mainey books.. It has all the things I want in a state – excessive amounts of shoreline, mountains, and trees yet a low population density. Aside from what I had read and all my visiting, I wasn’t that familiar with the place. I have tried to travel around a bit more and created some photo challenges for myself. I added every possible roadside attraction in Maine to my map. Some may be so minor they aren’t worth a special trip, but even if I don’t stop I don’t want to drive past one and not realize it. Sometimes it is just a plaque on a wall. When we get there, we take few photos and add those to our travel journaling.
There are LOTs of photography quests and challenges you can invent to suit your own tastes.
Collect vintage postcards of your area and replicate the images. Try standing in the exact same spot to get the exact same angle on the buildings or points of interest. If you like your images, you can create your own set of vintage postcards using online printing services.
I studied architectural styles and love being able to guess when a house was built. I adore architectural details: wrought iron fences, gargoyles, downspouts, crown glass windows. Drive around the old neighborhoods and shoot just the parts of buildings that interest you. Find the oldest house in every town you pass through. Seek out Craftsman or other types of residential homes. Even from a distance abandoned buildings, empty factories or shopping malls make interesting photos.
Photograph every figural statue or sculpture you come across, don’t forget the plaque so you know who it is. I used a long lens to capture every figure on a local library, it took a number of visits.
Make a list of whatever your state has a preponderance of: lighthouses, covered bridges, vintage diners, painted water towers, and make a checklist. I have a friend who is photographing every public library in the Maine. It’s good to have goals.
Look up the the National Register of Historic Places for your city or state. I shot all around me one summer and added them to their Wikipedia listings. Shoot public buildings at night or on the weekends when there are fewer people about. For a long time my travel was limited to just my own backyard, so I would walk around my town carrying a tripod taking a lot of night shots, it was the BEST time to walk around the town with a camera.
Events exist for a reason: parades, farmers markets, county fairs, food festivals, car shows, rodeos, carnivals, anything that pops up, provides some visual interest and pulls you out of yourself. You may have no interest in classic cars, giant pumpkins or tractor pulls, but they make great photography subjects. I have an aversion to shooting pictures of people especially children, however at these EVENTS, people expect to be photographed (at least from a distance) so I get some practice.
Image Porn. I also take pictures inside stores that I particularly like. These help me get the sense of place, and not confuse it with any similar places. But as you can imagine I don’t get confused about sources for sumptuous yarn or baked goods. Stores don’t mind this sort of imaging, it is great for their social media prescence. So even if you can’t EAT all the Donuts or Buy all the Yarn… go ahead and shoot the images.