What is a 'home patch' in photography (and why you should have one)

First published:
May 5, 2021
February 12, 2024

What is a 'home patch' in photography (and why you should have one)

First published:
May 5, 2021
February 12, 2024

Cover image by Martijn van der Nat

Have you ever been too busy or had limited time to dedicate to photography? Having a so-called home patch is a great way to spend more time enjoying your hobby

What exactly is a home patch? It can be described as 'a location in close proximity to where you live and somewhere you have access to visit year-round' and a place you can get to with minimum effort. Usually a home patch is a public space or area of land that anyone can visit–but it could even be somewhere like your garden.

It is really useful to have a home patch to practice your photography, as it means you can take pictures with relative ease, and without the challenges of long-distance journeys or unfamiliar locations. And there are many other benefits to shooting locally, such as savings on cost and time and the ability to revisit the location easily–which means you’ll have plenty of opportunity to get those amazing shots.

Knowing what best to photograph in your local area is not always straightforward. So here are some top tips to help you find a home patch and how you can make the most of it.

Editor's note:

At some point there will be someone looking for an image of your local area, no matter where that is, so it's always worth adding these shots to your overall photography portfolio.

Location finding

Knowing exactly where to shoot is one of the main challenges in photographing a home patch. The best thing to do when location finding is to think about areas that are easily accessible to you from where you live. Ask yourself, are there any woodlands or large open spaces in your neighbourhood? Do you have any nature reserves or rivers nearby? Also, think about local urban environments - these can be alternative and interesting places to shoot too.

Look at a printed map (the more detailed the better) to identify some of the natural and man-made wonders nearby. You can also use Google Maps, which is a great tool to scout out interesting places to visit with your camera close to home, and you can even use Google Street View to get a real-life view of the place.

Wherever you decide to shoot, you're sure to discover that there are so many incredible things to photograph on your doorstep that you may have previously overlooked.

Map view of Richmond Park London
Street view of Richmond Park London
Google Maps are an excellent resource for researching your local area and finding places to photograph

Photography subjects 

To get the most out of photographing a home patch, it is important to find areas that provide the subjects you enjoy shooting. And landscapes, wildlife, macro and architecture are all particularly accessible home patch subjects.

If wildlife photography is your passion, simply look for places where wildlife roams near you. Think about visiting your local fields, nature reserves, parkland or woods and take your camera with you next time you have the opportunity to visit. You could end up capturing amazing shots of wildlife such as deer, foxes, squirrels and hares.

A heron standing at the side of the river
Rivers and lakes are wonderful sites to see birds and aquatic life, like otters, herons and fish

Landscape and outdoor photography are also popular subjects for home patches. Ask yourself, for example, are there any natural areas you pass every day on your commute to work that you can explore with your camera?

You can also photograph macro subjects such as flowers and insects. Flowers in bloom and small insects like bees, butterflies and ladybirds can be popular subjects to shoot on your home patch and, actually, there is no better place to capture these than in your garden!

Robin perched on a branch in winter
Think about photographing birds in your garden too. Put out some food or install a bird feeder and see what comes to visit. Whatever birds and insects you attract, practise your photography skills on them
Busy Camden high street London
If you live around an urban area, cityscapes, street photography and architecture are all great subjects to shoot in your local area too. Image by Dean Michael Rondel

Local viewpoints

A great way to get the most out of photographing your local area is to unearth any local viewpoints. You will find these are all around you and it just requires a bit of research to locate them. Some may be familiar places which can include the best scenic vantage points of local views or popular places where people like to visit in your area, or even lookout points from elevated ground.

View toward the centre of Oxford UK
This picture of Oxford was taken close to where I live and was relatively straightforward to get to–making it an ideal spot for home patch photography
Editor's tip:

Local views also make excellent subjects for prints and will be particularly popular with customers based in that area. Learn more about creating photographs for wall art with our dedicated guide here.

Photo walks 

One of the best tips for shooting locally is to do a photo walk. With our busy lifestyles, it can be challenging to find time to do this, so carve out some time to go on a walk the next time you have a free day in your calendar.

Going on a photo walk is a brilliant way to photograph your home patch as it provides a chance to see the lie of the land and get a feel for what you can photograph close to where you live.

Female photographer at the Botanical Gardens Sheffield
Plan a dedicated photo walk around your local area to find subjects that interest you. Image by Jose

Animal signs and behaviour

You can often spot signs of animal life with the tracks they leave or by looking for markings at entrances to fields or in overgrown vegetation or woodlands where they live. Listening out for the different sounds animals make can be a great way to locate them. For example, birds will often make noises overhead when they are alerted by other wildlife in the area, or you might hear foxes scurrying in the undergrowth.

Fox jumping through a meadow in autumnal woodland
Look for places that have signs of wildlife–with a little time and patience you could end up getting incredible snaps of the local inhabitants like this shot from Wild Media

Local familiarity

One of the best things about photographing locally is familiarity. Familiarity with the locations, the conditions, the surroundings and the inhabitants who love to visit the area can all help to make the most out of photographing your local area.

Going back to a well-known location can be a great way to hone your skills, especially if you capture the scene at different times of the day when a location can look completely different, for example during the golden hour.

When you revisit a location you will often see it with fresh eyes and will even notice things you didn’t see the first time around. It’s also a great way to practice using different camera settings and techniques. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes either–the beauty of a home patch is that you’ll be able to return time after time to get that perfect shot.

Golden hour in the forest with the sun shining through the trees
Image by Martijn van der Nat
Bluebells in the forest in the Spring
For example, a woodland can look great with the autumn light and colourful foliage and in Spring its carpets of flowers such as bluebells this would certainly warrant a return visit. Also, notice the difference the light makes when photographing a similar subject at different times of the day?

Next steps

Whether you enjoy shooting architecture, landscapes, macro, nature or wildlife there are significant advantages to shooting on your home patch. Photographing the things you enjoy closer to home is a great way to fine tune your skills, earn a little extra cash, and you may also become much more familiar with a location you might have otherwise overlooked.

When working your local patch, remember it takes time to find the best locations–but you will be certainly rewarded for your efforts.

All images by Jeremy Flint unless otherwise stated.

Get 50% off Picfair Plus with the code UPGRADE-50
Click to Redeem