(Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from our partner mpb.com a great place to use your old gear to acquire newer gear.)
For many, the thought of revisiting an old location may seem like a step back rather than the potential for a step forward in terms of honing your skills. However, as you grow as a photographer and as your personal perceptions change, a location can develop a new meaning or open new opportunities. Locations don’t wait for you to photograph them, nor do they give you a heads up when conditions are ideal for you to realize your vision for a certain place. You’ve just got to keep an open mind and maybe a folder of potentialities.
Your Perception Changes Over Time
There have been a few times when I’ve gone to a location and although I finished the shoot feeling good about my images, a few months later a thought would creep into my head and suddenly it would get me thinking about the same location again.
With this image of the window seat, my initial compulsion was to shoot the corner of the room as it felt too empty to shoot wide. But even then, I felt that there wasn’t enough of a photograph here—this place was merely a backdrop for something else. That’s the thing: as a photographer you think visually, and often compositions or places you once thought finished can become fresh canvases for a new idea.
The above shot was taken approximately 9 months later during a time when I had begun shooting people more, rather than just objects and empty places. In doing my research for locations to shoot, I stumbled upon the initial image and realized that I could use this place to develop my idea of two people kissing. However, at the time the initial photo was taken my mindset was not the same; I was more interested in shape and color. For me, the first image was never going to be the final image but simply a mood board for something else. What that something else was, however, would not reveal itself to me until quite some time after.
Whilst in this instance I ultimately decided that I preferred the initial more atmospheric image, I am happy that I was willing to take the chance and revisit the location. Different conditions will always transform a location and every so often, subsequent visits will, in fact, deliver a preferred photo.
In the end, however, it’s all about learning—incorporating new components into your images to see what works and what doesn’t. More often than not, the only way to know this is to go back to old locations and use them as a testbed for new ideas. You never know, the place you thought done and dusted may just reinvent itself as your greatest photograph.