Ad Hoc photography is by no means a technical term, and in essence it’s probably as far removed from any technical photographic exercises that one could undertake. This article is all about photographic opportunism, ambling freely and photographing whatever you happen to stumble upon.
Step 1 – Take your camera!
We’ve all had those days, when for some reason or another, you’re lacking inspiration and don’t quite know what to do with yourself. When I start feeling like that, I have one solution, go and get some space, a bit of fresh air and I always take my camera.
Now I’m not saying that in order to undertake ad hoc photography that you need to be feeling sorry for yourself, merely that there is something exciting and engaging about heading out to somewhere new with your camera, not knowing what you’ll find.
Step 2 – To plan or not to plan?
Now when you head out, you can either go with absolutely no objectives, taking whichever camera you fancy and shooting whatever you happen to come across, which I find extremely rewarding. The alternative, is to set yourself a certain goal or framework for your outing. For instance, take a specific camera that you’ve been waiting for the ideal moment to work with, take a camera that you want to get to know a bit better, or you could tell yourself that you’re only going to shoot natural objects or just people or just architecture. This methodology can really help with advancing certain photographic techniques and will force you to think creatively within the restrictions that you’ve set yourself.
Step 3 – Keep an eye out
Once you’re out and about, the most important thing is to be vigilant. Keep your eyes peeled so that you can really take in your surroundings and be aware of the environment around you. Only as you take in the place, will you feel the desire to photograph it.
If you walk along staring at your feet, I can almost guarantee that your camera will stay in its bag for the duration of the trip! I always like to visit new places. Whether it’s a new city, a new street or maybe a forest woodland area, I will instantly feel the desire to observe and take in the brand new environment.
Step 4 – It’s all in the detail
So as you wander freely taking in the sights and smells of your chosen destination, you’ll feel drawn to certain subject matter. As you engage with each subject, ensure you spend time with it to appreciate it’s details. Take in the features which you may have otherwise missed.
Consider how you can capture the subject in a way that is appealing to the eye and engages the viewer. I often find myself shooting new objects in a way that means that others have to quiz me on what it actually is. So maybe go for the abstract approach and capture an everyday object in a way that might have people guessing.
Step 5 – Give it a go!
So now it’s over to you, next time you’ve got a free couple of hours, grab your camera and explore somewhere new. For me, it’s a great way to escape the daily grind and really frees my mind, but is also a means of photographic inspiration. It is also a challenge to work with new subject matter on the spot without any preparation. Give it a try, you might surprise yourself!
All images copyright Simon Bray