Self Assignment: Photo Essay of Your City

Super Photo Magic School

Looking to push your own creative buttons and capture some interesting photos under your belt? If you have some free time next week and can get up from the feasting coma, I recommend assigning yourself a great story: photograph your city. Here's how to get started...

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1) Decide on topics to help guide your shoot. Subjects such as dining/eating, shopping, nature, art, grit, safety and people are all relevant in describing the look and feel of the place you live. They'd all be on the list of any photo editor or art director professionals work with in creating images that describe a certain place. Make a checklist and as soon as you've made a few pictures that fuflfill the requirement, move to the next topic.

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2) Start with neighborhoods you're unfamiliar with. It's tempting to just shoot within a 1 mile radius of your home, but it can be so surprising, engaging and satisfying to go somewhere you're uncertain about and walk around, meet people and poke your head in places you never knew existed. By assigning yourself an unfamilar neighborhood, your images will have a freshness that only something new can bring to your lens and how you approach the content. It's like traveling in your own town!

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3) Get bold — Ask folks if they'd mind being in a photograph and talk to them . . . See what they see. How does their neighborhood influence them? Have they seen the city change much in the time they've been there? Use the photo making as an excuse to chat with your fellow city dwellers. You never know where it will lead, these impromptu conversations. And carry a card in case they want to get in touch about the photograph. If you really love them, or they made an impression on you, get their address and send them a physical print of their image. It'll cost you under 5 bucks and it'll make their day.

(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)

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