Every week I get solicitations for photography trips - trips to places as far as India or Alaska, as exotic as Indian diggings or undersea diving, or as accessible as hikes in the nearby Sierra and festivals throughout the region. Last year I found the California Photo Festival to be a terrific learning experience, and I plan to attend again in October 2012. I also enjoy Meetup group expeditions throughout the area - it is always fascinating to see the diversity of images captured by people who are in the same place at the same time.
But as interesting as these opportunities may be, they leave me a bit wary. I am still almost overwhelmed by the photographic images available within a very tight radius of the desk at which I currently sit.
A few days ago I returned from a trip to Mississippi and Tennessee, visiting antebellum homes, a Civil War battlefield and Elvis Presley's home at Graceland. I'm still sorting through those images, but I believe I came away with a few good ones. And yet, they were not necessarily the most exciting photographs I have taken of late.
Driving home from an evening out this week, I was struck by the interest of a most ordinary sight - my husband's dirty work sneakers, left out to dry by the garage. For days I have been asking him to put this eyesore away. But in the darkness of night, with our home's exterior lighting shining on them, they took on a new level of interest. I ran for the camera. And, I instructed my husband not to move the hideous things until I have had a chance to photograph them in every possible light.
In that very same vein, I found myself suddenly reaching for the camera as I played with my young puppy, to teach him a few things about human interaction. My older dog, Spur, sat imprisoned in his x-pen, gazing at us most mournfully. It was a shot I could not plan, could not create on demand . . . and I had to have it.
One moral of this story is, yes, we must all make like Boy Scouts and "be prepared." The other is that, as wonderful as photographic trips and adventures may be, there are extraordinary, compelling images right under our very noses. I'm convinced that tuning in to those will help me build a portfolio that is uniquely mine, just as it will ensure I am best prepared to apply my own creative vision when I do head out into the big broad world.