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5 Tips How to Photograph Your Own Neighborhood and City

Don’t desire to photograph foreign places; strive to photograph your own local city and neighborhood! Some tips and ideas for you:

1. Just shoot with your phone 

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I am a huge fan of shooting with a phone, and processing photos with VSCO (a6 is my favorite for color).

The bias against shooting with a phone is that it isn’t “legitimate”. This is false. All cameras are good (and legitimate) cameras. 

If you find yourself shooting more with a phone, just shoot with your phone!

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

2. Just go for a walk around your neighborhood 

suburb composition

Better to make interesting photos in your “boring” neighborhood than than to make average photos in an extraordinary or exotic place. 

Practice shooting the Fibonacci Spiral composition

When I’m feeling cooped up at the house, I like to just walk around the block with a phone and just snap whatever random stuff I find along the way. This is a good visual exercise to keep my eyes sharp. 

3. Document your own city 

Strip mall plaza in Westminster, California (heart of little Saigon)

I am currently in Little Saigon with Cindy’s family, and I realized– there are so many interesting Vietnamese-American things to photograph here!

International money exchange 

Why is it that we have no pride in our own home city or neighborhood? Why is it that we always desire to be somewhere else? What if we desired instead, to be exactly where we are right now?

Little Saigon vs Vietnam Time 

Document certain themes, concepts, or ideas you find interesting in your own city. For example, 

  • Cultural customs 
  • Ethnic communities 
  • Consumerism 
  • Foreign vs local 
  • Urban landscape 
Vietnamese Daily News

4. Photograph indoors 

Shot inside a Paris Baguette Coffee Shop 

Don’t just feel like you must shoot in the streets. Also enjoy shooting indoors!

Shoot inside coffee shops, and anywhere you are! 

5. Practice your composition and colors

Ford Mustang, Huawei p20 colors

It don’t matter how boring your city is. You can always practice your composition, framing, and colors.

Represent your own city! 

Shoot photos while you’re filling up gas in your car. 


  1. Have massive pride in your own city. As an experiment, don’t allow yourself to shoot outside of your own city for a month. Seek to make the best possible photos in your own city! 
  2. Imagine if the devil came to you, and told you that you were cursed and could never travel outside of your own city until you die. Would you still be able to live a happy life as a photographer? 
  3. Don’t overthink photography. Just shoot it! 


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