Tips for Capturing Great Photos in Your Own Backyard

We’ve all been there- you’re going on a big trip to an exciting destination and you want to make sure you come back with some amazing photographs to document your trip and the locations you visited. However, despite your best intentions (and ambitions!), the reality is that 1) you’re going to a relatively unfamiliar place, and 2) your time and photo opportunities there are limited due to the length of your stay. As a result, your photography subjects and range of environments will be limited to the duration of your trip and the environments that are present during that time.

Canadian geese taking flight over a frozen lake

In a previous blog, “Have Camera, Will Travel”, I described the importance of keeping your camera with you as you travel, always being ready to capture whatever unique photographs that opportunity presents you with. However, sometimes the best photographs are captured in your own backyard.

Frog Closeup

By “backyard”, I don’t literally mean the backyard of your house (although, depending on where you live, this may be true). What I am referring to is the local geographic area in which you live, your "neighborhood". From a practical point of view, if you’ve lived there for any amount of time, you likely know this area well (better than any area where you’re only visiting briefly), which is a huge advantage in scouting out the best places to photograph.

Fisherman on the lake at sunrise

It has been said that good photography is largely being in the right place at the right time. I'm told that experienced photographers don’t leave this to chance- they scout out “the right place”, then wait for the “right time” (i.e the right conditions). One of the best places to realize this is in your own “backyard”, where you live and work. You know this area. It's your "neighborhood". You’ve spent some time scouting out the "right places” and have identified sites that hold promise for capturing great photographs. Now all you have to do is wait for “the right time”- i.e. the right season, weather conditions, time of day, etc. Because this is part of your local area, you likely have a lot more flexibility in getting out and capturing some great photographs when the time is right.

Panoramic view of Japanese Pagoda in the snow

The problem is, we often think that there’s nothing interesting near where we live. This is likely NOT true- you’re just familiar with the area, so you don’t see it with a fresh set of eyes. Your challenge is to learn to look at your familiar surroundings with a new perspective and capture photographs of what you see.

Horses grazing in a rural farm pasture

For example, perhaps there’s a lake nearby- get to know it well. Depending on the season, you could have some wide varieties of flora and fauna, as well as a diversity of weather conditions. We have a lake nearby with a trail around it that I regularly walk. I think I’ve photographed that lake in so many seasons that I could publish a book of photographs, with no two alike.

Water lily blooming in a quiet lake

Your “backyard” may include an area quite a distance from the epicenter of your life (home, work, etc). It might include a local town or city, some scenic landmarks, or some other photo sites within a reasonable travel range. I have a number of favorite spots within a 30 minute travel distance of my home and work that I regularly frequent when time, weather conditions, and seasons merit. I have other sites that are further away (1-2 hours) that I visit less frequently (due to the greater distance), but still try to visit semi regularly as conditions permit.

Washington D.C Sunrise Panorama

Nighttime Washington D.C Waterfront Panorama

Please don’t skip your big trips to exciting destinations- but venture out more in the area where you live. There are undoubtedly “right places” and “right times” that are prime photographs just waiting to happen. So go explore your own backyard!

Train tracks in the snow

Photo credits: Jruffa.
  • Jruffa
Photography has changed the way I look at the world around me. While on the prowl for the next good shot, I have learned to walk through life with my eyes open. Instead of just sleepwalking through the day, I learned to take the time to regularly look around this amazing world with appreciation and awe!

Your comment must be written in English.

We value all opinions and we will not censor or delete comments unless they come from fake accounts or contain spam, threats, false facts or vulgarity.


January 20, 2017

I live in pennsylvania where we experience all four seasons and i am looking forward to taking winter, spring summer and fall pictures. I am new to this. I am a runner and a hiker and i have always loved to take pictures when i am outside. So, i thought why not try this. Hopefully, i can capture the beauty of the seasons


January 12, 2017

Very pertinent point of view, thank you


January 11, 2017

What a wonderful article! Yes keep your eyes opened all the time and be present.


January 08, 2017

Great article/advise. Some of my most consistent sellers are images that I captured within a 1 mile radius of my home. You photos are top notch!


January 07, 2017

Wow.. Thanks Jruffa for sharing tips for photo capturing. Recently i did photo shoot for ***.com company to create new advertisement. I like your idea to create nice photos. Thanks


January 06, 2017

That's a nice article and nice pictures :) thanks


January 05, 2017

Great article


January 01, 2017

Thanks for the reminder. I live in the tropics and yearn to take photos of snow! You made me reassess familiar places and I hope to have some of my "backyard" photos up soon. Happy New Year!


December 30, 2016

Thanks Jrufa! Nice photos.


December 27, 2016

Beautiful! Congrats!


December 23, 2016

Great tips and lovely images :)


December 22, 2016

Great pics and you are very right about our "backyards"!


December 21, 2016

nice pictures :)


December 21, 2016

Nice advises!