Need a change of scenery? Can’t get away or afford to go on some amazing vacation? Have you ever taken any of the tours in your local area?

A few years ago I went downtown Chicago (an hour from me) to go on one of the free Pedway Tours offered by Chicago Elevated. I’d been in parts of the pedway and heard about it from time to time but I never really explored it. By taking this tour it just made me realize there are so many places to see and photograph in our own immediate (OK, an hour drive) areas.

Nothing new

I hear photographers say all the time that they’ve photographed everything there is in their own towns, everything. Really? I just cannot imagine that. There is always something to see, something to shoot and there are always things we don’t see even though we feel like we’ve shot everything there is to shoot in any given area whether it’s our backyard, hometown or our favorite spot down by the river.

I also hear how boring it is, how “I don’t travel to amazing places” or “I don’t have those epic places near me.” Again, have you looked? Wandered? Driven around? Have you gone to the same spot in the morning, midday, evening, in the rain, snow, fog?

Obviously larger cities have plenty of tours you can take advantage of — many for free. Smaller cities and towns also offer walking tours and depending on what they’re known for other types of tours. Check out your local Convention & Visitor Bureau website, check out the towns around you as well. You might be surprised by what they offer.

Open your eyes

We tend to wear blinders sometimes because the area is familiar, we lived our lives here, we see the same streets, buildings and parks each day as we walk or drive by. How often though do we really stop and look or take time to actually explore for the sole purpose of photographing an area? I live within walking distance of a park, I wander over there once in a while with my camera, I should go there more. It’s not a big park but the photographic opportunities are endless.

Do the work

So, my suggestion, make a list. What are the local tours in your own hometown, in the nearby towns? Make a list of all the parks and forest preserves in your area, have you been to them all? Shot them all? My guess is no. These would make for great personal projects as well. Another list could be the local events that take place throughout the year, more opportunities for different images from your local area.

Again, I’ve wanted to wander the pedway for years to see what there would be to photograph. I had been told that there wasn’t much, mostly just long hallways and that can get boring, it’s so not boring. There is always always always something to shoot!!