Finding Photography Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
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Written by Alec Pain (Alastair Place)

I’m never quite sure whether I live in a town or a village. Apparently, I live in a town… but I like to think of it as a village. Charlbury is a very small, beautifully formed commuter [insert town or village here] in The Cotswolds in the UK.

Wherever you live, I would imagine you have the same issues as me – you don’t fully appreciate what’s there in front of you. You see the same sights every day; you bring the camera up to your eyes and look through the viewfinder… and either decide to put it back down again or take the same dull picture of the same shot over and over.

But inspiration doesn’t always strike when you need it to. We live in a permanent state of now. We must publish that image on Instagram today – or get our pictures up as soon as they are scanned. Or if you – like me – have a day job, and can’t just drop what you’re doing and head out when the weather is “just” right. Let’s face it, the weather rarely is.

So, I’ve put together these three essential tips for you to keep the faith and find inspiration in the place where you live or when circumstances aren’t ideal:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Town or a village?

1. Always Take Your Camera With You

The first is seemingly obvious: always take your camera with you. Even on the greyest of days, even when you are going back past the same spot for the umpteenth time.

Whilst I can likely only count two or three opportunities when I have missed a shot that’s still three too many.

I like to take my camera to the shop every Saturday to get my morning paper. It’s a five-minute walk across the playing fields, but I’ve been rewarded with some of my favorite images.

These two are on the same day: the first facing the tree, the second standing underneath it:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Sunlight bathed the golden glow
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Go tell it to the trees
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Once I get to the local shop, there’s another smaller playing field which has park benches around it.

Waiting for the light to hit them has been crucial, but also wandering around the field looking for the best angle also reaps dividends:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Failing to keep the day alive
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
A bench outside Egypt

2. Try a New Film Stock, Camera, or Technique

Trying different film stocks will also give you variety and something new. The same is true for a different camera or a new technique you want to try.

Here’s the same playing field with Kodak Gold:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Autumn seater
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Playing the field

And here’s some with the Holga 135PAN:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Leaf storm
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Egypt in Autumn

There’s a big country estate at the edge of town, called Cornbury Park.

Here’s my wife meeting one of the deer through the railings – again on the Minolta CLE:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Deer, dear

Of course, there are times when you simply have the “wrong” film loaded in your camera.

You can’t magically add anything to your ISO when you’re taking the shot with the Holga, and you don’t have a tripod, but sometimes it can just about work in your favor.

The below are Kentmere 100 on the path outside Cornbury Park:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Darklife
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Parklife

On a grey day, you could also try a Holgarama or a double exposure.

Here’s St. Mary’s church and a longer walk up to Ditchley on the outskirts of the village:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Church-o-rama
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Ditchley direction

And here’s the kids playing area back at those larger playing fields and a multi exposure of the same swings:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
At your leisure
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Swing-sing

3. Try Shooting at Different Times of the Day or Year

I once saw a quote from a photographer who said that he never took the same shot twice. He would never revisit a scene.

I disagree.

There are times when you have the wrong film in your camera, or the sky is grey – where you’ll never get the shot you wanted.

Take these two shots taken from nearly the same spot on a bridge at Cornbury Park. The first, taken with the Holga 120N is OK – there’s no sun but some nice thick clouds and some sense of summer.

The second was taken in in late September with Kentmere 400 – still with some clouds, but with a little bit of sunshine and a nice reflection on the water. Plus, it’s got a dreamy feel that the Holga GCFN has helped to dapple at the edges.

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Even-dale
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Moving the river.

Again, different times of the day will give you a different look. Late afternoon sun and midday:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Long shadows
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Walking the dog

But by walking and re-walking the same journeys – and finding new ones, you’ll eventually strike on something that you’d not noticed before. Take these pines that perhaps had been cleared by the landowner.

This is on the walk back down the bridge at Cornbury Park towards home.

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
In the pines

At other times, you just happen upon something… take this bizarre shop dummy sat in a White Van, a beautiful Alfa Romeo, or the local pub owner leaving his Land Rover outside The Bull.

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Vannequin Mannequin
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Wherefore art thou, Romeo?
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
The Bull Rover

Take your camera when it’s raining and you think you have no chance of getting a shot:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Rain stopped play

The yearly Wilderness Festival (also held at Cornbury Park) is also a great source, here’s an entire length of film from my entrance onto the site to seeing Arlo Parks on stage at the end of it:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Open to beauty
Click to enlarge

I’m often up too late to capture the morning fog, and so finding it still hanging in the Autumn air at midday was a blessing.

There’s a couple of small woods on the outskirts, and these were all taken within minutes of each other:

Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Today will take its time
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Tell it to tomorrow
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
If someone slips a whisper
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
If we get caught in this scene
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
If you don’t slow down
Finding Inspiration Where You Live by Alec Pain on Shoot It With Film
Well doesn’t that make you smile?

I think there’s still plenty of images and events to capture – and perhaps I’ll work up the courage to ask to take portraits of Charlburians one of these days, but my motto is keep doing the work and the work will build.

I hope you enjoyed this journey around my neck of the woods.

Thank you so much, Alec! Alec is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and be sure to check out his other articles, like The Holga 135 Pan: Getting to Know Your Camera and Long Exposure Film Photography at Night: Learning From My Mistakes.

You can also check out more of his work on Instagram.

Leave your questions about finding inspiration in your hometown below in the comments!

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Alec Pain

Alec Pain (AKA Alastair Place) is a pinhole and experimental photographer and a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find his other articles here, such as How to Shoot Holgaramas.

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Wonderful shots, and good advice.

Reply

Alec Pain / Alastair Place

Thanks Gary

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