Get out and explore! Like we photographers need to be told that, right? But, it’s National Photography Month so we have even more of a reason to create.

Where to explore

It’s not always an option to truly go explore faraway places. Fortunately, most of us have plenty of local spots we can go to. Forest preserves, local parks, zoos and more. Even if we get really stuck not being able to go very far, there is always our own backyard.

Quite honestly, many of us feel like we can’t create decent images if we are not on some epic trip. We need to change our mindset about that because it is not true. Of course, it’s always nice to have new scenery to photograph. Something we don’t see where we live is great. But, it’s just not always feasible. Never mind how many of us rarely document or create photos where we live. Why do we always have to GO somewhere else to be creative? (Guess what? We don’t.)

How to explore

Get creative locally and make a list of the forest preserves nearby. Start checking them off the list as you explore. Take a look at the greenery, flowers, plants and trees in your own yard. Explore them in detail, get out the macro lens, extension tubes or reverse rings and capture them up close.

Combine your exploring with your daily walk. The images above were all taken at a park I walk to. Grab the camera and see what you can find along the way that would make an interesting subject. All sorts of options may be presented to you. Architecture, people, pets and nature. Or, give yourself a topic to focus on along the way. How many textures can you find? Photograph those and use them in your own composites. 

When to explore

Anytime and always! As much as possible. The more we are out there creating images, looking for and seeing what is around us, the better we become as photographers. 

No excuses. Rainy? Too bad, go out there and get raindrop images. Too hot? Explore in your own house. Grab some kitchen utensils and food and see what type of images you can create. These images were created in my backyard and kitchen.

Need a reminder to get out there? Leave your camera out and within reach. Out of sight out of mind isn’t a good reason to not go either. Make it easy. 

Take a road trip

If you can, take a road trip. It doesn’t even have to be far. I live within an hour or two of both amazing cities and the countryside. So many opportunities to explore. From architecture to beautiful landscapes, the possibilities are truly endless if we just take the time to do a little research. Milwaukee is a 2-hour drive for me. It has amazing architecture and Lake Michigan, plus a whole lot more.

Find what you love. My guess is that you have not explored every location you can. Make a plan to do so. Then, when you do have the time, or the weather is perfect you are ready to just pick up your camera and jump in the car. Don’t limit your thinking to the usual favorite spots. Big cities to small towns. Large museums to quaint little rural historical sites … they are all worth exploring.


Speaking of limiting your thinking. There are no limits to exploration. Your thought process, your creativity and your imagination are what will keep you moving forward with your photography. Don’t allow yourself to listen to those negative thoughts or phrases that stop you from getting out with your camera to explore. You know the ones:

  • I’ll go later
  • There is no time
  • It’s too this that or the other
  • I just don’t feel like it

We’d love to see where you end up exploring. Whether it’s near or far, share your National Photography Month images with us in the Photofocus Community.

Go. Explore. Create. You’ll feel better once you do.