Visiting beautiful locations for landscape photography can be quite rewarding. Often these, are one-time occasions. If you want to visit the same location more than once, you have to look for something close. This article is about making a long-term series of photos of one location.
Back in the eighties, I visited a forest nearby almost daily. I remember how I made a series of four images from a nice forest path with trees lined up, one for every season. Although this is nothing new, it is kind of special to have such a series of photos of a place you visit a lot, especially when you look at it many years later.
With digital photography, it has become much easier to take photos of one specific place on a regular basis. You can take as many images as you like. At the same time, it’s become much more difficult to do so. The world has become so much smaller, which means we can easily travel to the farthest reaches of the Earth to visit amazing locations, only to forget about the nice places nearby.
Often, these travels are a onetime experience. Although amazing in most situations, you never get a connection with those faraway locations. You’re a passerby, and if you’re lucky, the light and weather conditions are perfect for a beautiful one-time landscape photo.
The benefit of having a nice local patch is the ability to visit it as often as you like. It means you learn everything about it — how the light is flowing at different moments of the day or how weather conditions influence its appearance. If you shoot that same place more than once, you end up with a series of photos that will become quite special as the years go by.
The 15-Year Project
It is possible to capture one location during the four seasons, like I did once back in the eighties. If you have more nice locations nearby, you can make a project out of it. Sometimes, a series is evolving without you realizing it. Once, I took a picture of a forest path just after sunset. It was a great moment, and I happened to have my camera with me. This was in 2007, and by chance, I took a similar image during evening twilight nine years later.
From that time on, I captured the same forest path more often. Sometimes, there were a few months between the two images; at another time, there was a gap of two years. That didn’t matter at all, because over the years, I ended up with a nice series of images.
During the month of February 2021, there was a lot of Sahara sand in the air. It made the sunsets amazing. Then, I realized it would be great to capture the beautiful colors of the evening sky at that special location. That’s when I knew this had turned into a great series of images spread over more than 15 years.
During those years, there had to have been plenty of memorable moments that would have been great additions to this series, if only I had the wits to capture it more often. But then again, there is absolutely no hurry. I can go whenever I like or when I think of it. A star-trail picture was the last one I took at this spot. But I'm sure more will follow in the years to come.
Series in My Archives
Lately, I have been looking through my archives. It turns out I have more pictures that are of the same locations at different times. I’ve been gathering the images in a collection, and I love the way these series make an average location so much more special. These pictures turn out to be more rewarding compared to the faraway locations I visited just once.
That doesn’t mean pictures of great locations are worthless. But those are moments in time, while the series of images is so much more. The series offers some sort of connection with the location. It tells a story of that place and how it evolves over time. Looking through my archives also revealed a series of photos of a faraway location that I visited quite often, which is great. Still, the locations close by give even more satisfaction, knowing I can decide now, at this time, to go out tomorrow morning and be there at sunrise.
Make No Plans and See What Happens
I have started to visit nearby locations more often with the idea of capturing them in different situations. I decided to capture them even when it didn’t feel appealing. Although these pictures won't show the location in the best possible light, in the series, they will become great additions. This is key: the variation of a series of photos.
I don’t have strict planning for the new series of photos. I want to go whenever I like, without a deadline. These series may take years to grow, but I’m in no hurry. Sometimes, I just walk by the locations and see what they look like. In other situations, I will plan ahead, capturing them during special moments.
Make Some Sort of Project
If you don’t want to wait years for a series to evolve, a plan is advisable. You can do something like I did in the eighties: one picture for every season. You could choose four or five different locations for this, giving the project more gravity. It’s also possible to vary the idea of a seasonal series. Take a picture of a couple of locations in every month of the year. You will end up with 12 pictures of each location. You can even narrow it down by choosing a certain date of the month. It may force you to shoot even in the most unattractive weather conditions.
If you have a lot of time on your hands, it's also possible to capture the same location every single day of the year. This 365 day project takes a lot of determination. But the end result may turn out quite nice.
Or do like I do. Instead of making forcing yourself to go every day or every month, you can capture the location with no plans whatsoever. Don’t make it mandatory, and let it grow naturally for a couple of years. Perhaps you already have without realizing it.
Have you checked your archives for series similar to the ones I showed in this article? If you haven’t and you like the idea of a series of photos, perhaps you should. Maybe you already captured a series of a few specific locations. Let me know in the comments below and leave a link to your series if these are presented online. I’d love to take a look.
Yes, since June 2014, there have been about 630 photos of the Oslo skyline and still counting.
The light and sky - are so fascinating. Sometimes I must drop everything, grab the camera and climb to the 5.5 floor.
The light changes so quickly here in the north. Cloud formations are so unique...
How wonderful. I enjoyed watching the series. Rainbows, fireworks, moon light, snow, amazing skies... Beautiful
I've done some such repeated location series but never found them particularly interesting.
Perhaps how interesting they are depends on how strong the extremes of the seasons are. In areas with very hot, dry summers, and very cold winters with much deep snow, such a series can be quite interesting and even dynamic. But if winter has no snow, or just a little snow, and if summer is not very dry so things stay kind of green just like spring, then I agree they would not be as interesting because the differences would be subtle instead of in-your-face obvious.
Not every location can be used. The best location will have something nice to look at, no matter what the situation. Perhaps you should try again at location that is a bit more attractive?
Oh Nando these are STUNNING
Michelle, you are extremely encouraging, especially to the other staff writers. What a blessing you are to this space!
You make me blush
That's a lot of photos I've been looking through the list, which is a bit too long for my taste. A lot of similar images, same wall, same light, same sky.
It made me realize, a serie needs something that changes in an obvious way. Perhaps your series will gain strength and interest by selecting the most attractive images. Display these in a gallery. Besides that, I have respect how you kept on photographing that single spot since that time. Amazing.
Thanks for sharing, Mauro.
Sigrid Neubert took a series of photos of the Nymphenburger Schlosspark in Munich for over 30+ years (maybe even longer). She published a few books in her time and was an A-List architectural photographer in the 60s and 70s. I had the pleasure of meeting her and spending time with her in her flat in the Kemnatenstrasse in Munich back in 2011. I lived nearby.