Villages provide plenty of photo opportunities and most of us have one just a short drive away. The village community is one area to focus on, there's usually a few local specialty shops - maybe a hardware store, grocer or cobbler.
Pluck up courage to ask to photograph the employees at work. The worse that can happen is they say no, but it they accept you will have a brilliant opportunity to shoot environmental portraits. Try shooting with a wide-angle lens to include as much background in while catching the owner at work . If it's fruit and veg you could have them weighing up a purchase, carrying a sack into the store, arranging the fare or even hand writing a display price ticket. While a cobbler could be banging at a heel or shaping a key. A butcher could be hacking away at a joint or arranging slices of meat.
Take this idea outdoors and follow the locals around catching them at the bus stop, crossing the road, chatting to neighbours over a fence. Whatever you do respect their privacy. It's best if you get chatting to them first and ask for permission, then you won't feel awkward and no one gets into trouble.
Activities And Events
Look out for village activities, many have charity events at the local church. It may be a bring and buy sale, a flower or cake stall, jumble sale, book or record fair. All offer great photo journalism style options. Shoot with a telephoto lens to catch people unaware in a candid fashion. Shoot with a wide-angle to get the hall with all the stalls in. Use ambient light for more atmospheric photos.
Villages tend to have interesting flower displays, especially those who aim to win best kept village awards. So if you're looking for colourful chocolate box style shots check out the local regions of the Campaign To Protect Rural England (CPRE) web site. Use a wide-angle lens from a viewpoint close to the flower display and include the houses/street scene in the background. Or shoot with a telephoto to compress perspective and focus totally on the flowers.
Many Derbyshire villages have a summertime activity called Well Dressing, where they dress a well in pictures made of flowers and petals. This is a great opportunity for colourful shots.
Chocolate Box Views
To get some ideas about which villages have good photographic potential look at calendars in stationery shops or jigsaws in toy shops. The popular calenders and jigsaws will have pretty village scenes – thatched cottages, quaint river scenes, floral street scenes. They usually have the location printed on them. You can plan a trip and take in two or three villages in one region.
Look out for vintage life in a village. It's the place you're likely to find a Victorian post box, there may be old street signs, and architectural details found in old buildings or monuments. Villages often have war memorials that make good focal points.
The village's local pub might have an interesting pub sign to photograph. Shoot from further away with a longer lens to avoid a distorted shape. Nip inside and you could find a warm fire, and local characters. Rest the camera on a table to take ambient light shots.
One you've done your excursion, consider making prints of your best shots into postcards and selling them in the local cafe/gift shop/post office.
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