finding the beauty in unusual places


photo by katie shields

We’ve all been there before: you find the perfect photo location, have your friend snap a few pics in an amazing outfit, then go to post on social media, only to see several posts in the exact same location. Now don’t get me wrong, I find no fault in enjoying popular things, whether it be photos in front of a muraled brick wall in a quaint hometown or a sunflower field that everyone flocks to at golden hour. However, it’s never a bad choice to get experimental in discovering that perfect picture. Exploring new spaces and getting out of your comfort zone might do you some good… and can make for a memorable photo.

Katie Shields, a student and photographer at Kent State, said “the beauty of photography is that it doesn’t always have to be posed and planned.” Shields enjoys carrying her camera with her everywhere she goes for this exact reason, never knowing when something might catch the eye and inspiration strikes. “You don’t have to have perfect studio lighting and a backdrop to take a good photo,” Shields said. She recalls a time driving in downtown Pittsburgh searching for that “picture perfect” location, when she passed a car shop. Mountains of tires stacked near a weathered wall may seem to be an unlikely spot for fashion photography, but that mountain turned out to be the perfect platform for Shields’ model to pose atop. Regarding the friend that she brought along with her, Shields said “she asked me if I was serious and I said ‘yes, trust me on this one,’” which created the photo shoot that has since become her favorite. “All it took was her driving past the shop for me to know it was going to be a great location,” Shields said. It’s the ability to see the glamour in unusual places that gives Shields photography something special.

So how can you hone in on your skills of finding the beauty in unusual places? Try shaking up your routine in order to discover otherwise hidden gems. Trade in your usual route and  try going on a walk in a different neighborhood. Take a chance on a new local coffee shop or grocery store, and open your eyes to the possibilities that surround you. Downtown Kent is full of beauty and finding an unusual place to craft into the perfect photo location shouldn’t be too hard either. Slip into an alley (in a safe manner) to check out some exposed brick or walk along the river for a more natural, scenic photo. Walk into a small business to check out what unique products they offer (inspiration can be found in the smallest mediums). Wherever you find yourself, don’t be afraid to pose and snap some pictures if a spot sparks creativity. Dare to think outside the box in order to express your unique self. After getting that perfectly unusual photo, you won’t regret it. 

Correction: Katie Shields’s name was misspelled in a previous version.

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