You wouldn't expect that certain locations alone could assist you in learning the art of photography, but they do — especially if you are one that needs to experiment to learn. Photographing someone in these two locations will force you to learn about all kinds of light, get creative with posing, and help you create images that are full of substance and all the elements of art.
There's a ton to learn when you pick up your first camera, and even more so if you're anything like me and struggle to learn solely online. Because there are endless ways to learn photography, a starting point that's actually worthwhile is hard to find. This is the reason most beginners, including me, resort to taking their cameras outdoors to basic outdoor locations for a while. I wish I hadn't taken this route when I first picked up a camera. I became comfortable only shooting outdoors with plenty of sunlight, and it took me years to realize I needed to get comfortable with other lighting and location situations if I wanted to get any better. I also wish I would have done this sooner to gain confidence about shooting in public places. Until recently, I was very shy when asking to use locations like these.
Although all practice is good, an easy, lit-by-the-sun location won't teach you very much and may make you fearful of more challenging scenes in the future. So, challenge yourself right from the start if you're wanting to expand your skills with a camera fairly quickly and authentically. It's important that you choose locations that will challenge you enough to do this. Don't just go outside. It's understandable why we start outside: shooting indoors can be intimidating and confusing until you know what you're doing with your camera. Daylight may be the easiest way to get images with good clean lighting, but it doesn't push you to grasp some form of creative control and it doesn't encourage you to experiment with your camera's vast settings and when to use them.
It may sound silly, but hear me out. Arcades are full of beautiful light setups, fun colors, and unique textures. It's like a studio with strobes and gels that you can just walk into. They make for beautifully lit images, and you don't even have to set any equipment up. Shooting in an arcade or a business with a similar aesthetic will teach you how vast the lighting possibilities are, how artificial lights fall on a subject, and how your camera captures this. Locations like this will also push you to add drama and vibrancy to your work, something I didn't grasp for years. Because I had gotten used to outdoor light, I had no idea you could do so many different things with all kinds of light and camera settings.
I personally couldn't stand being in laundromats until I realized how the light in most of them bounces off all the white machines and walls to create a gorgeous, softly lit scene for portraits and editorial images. Laundromats usually have a set of decently sized windows to let natural sunlight in to light up the whole space. The white walls act as giant V-flats all around the subject to create the soft light. Learning how to use both artificial and natural light in your images will add a unique and professional style to your work from the start.
This was the closest laundromat I found. We showed up, and it turned out to be exactly what I wanted. If you don't like a location you find, the cool thing is you can likely go right down the road to try another one. At either location, no one said anything to us while we took pictures. As long as you're respectful and polite, it's rare that anyone cares that you're there.
Not only do locations like these teach you about lighting, but they will also make you and your subject utilize the space in creative ways very easily. The model in these images had actually never been in front of a camera until this shoot, which shows how the spaces encouraged her natural comfort in posing with the objects in the building. Being able to direct your subjects comes with practice, so placing them in these spaces will definitely ease that awkward stage of learning. The spaces will also get you used to utilizing lines and objects aesthetically in your frames.
Venturing out to indoor locations such as these will really help you narrow down what you're shooting when you're just starting out. Confining yourself to a small space allows you to focus on lighting, framing, and style as opposed to stressing about where your subject should stand outdoors. If you shoot in these types of places early on, you'll have a much easier time knowing what to look for outside for good locations and substance in your work.