Can’t travel? Bring the world to you with help from Photoshop

White flowers with dusk as their background.

Image source: Emily Nathan.

Travel and photography have long gone hand-in-hand. Professionals, hobbyists, and parents all love to pack the camera and explore a new place. But what do you do when travel suddenly is not possible?

Like many creatives, Emily Nathan recently had to tackle this very question. As editor-in-chief of Tiny Atlas Quarterly, a photography-led lifestyle travel brand, magazine, and social community, she initially wondered how she could do her job without being able to hop on a plane and explore remote areas.

Turns out, the solution was waiting right outside her front door.

You can create beautiful portraits close to home

When you are used to being on the move, spending all day every day indoors is simply not an option.

“I had to get out of my house to stay sane, so I began making my son go on walks with me every day,” Emily says.

During their walks, Emily began shooting photos on her phone and sharing what she saw on Instagram. As images of flowers, homes, businesses, and signs in her neighborhood replaced her typical photos from more exotic locations, she was surprised to see such positive reactions to her hyperlocal content.

“So many people were commenting, ‘I love your walks!’” Emily says. “And I realized that simple things like plants can be so beautiful and really touch people, especially if they are also finding themselves stuck inside.”

Learning to see her own neighborhood in a new way and trying to view it with a traveler’s eyes opened the creative outlet Emily needed and gave her a chance to share her world with her audience.

“I realized that my neighborhood is dense and interesting,” Emily says. “There are flowers coming through the cracks, parks with green hills, and my son running in the rain. There is a sense of freedom even though we are stuck. I started to feel a type of growth and renewal each time I stepped outside.”

Discover your unique vision, and share it with the world

Times such as now when travel is difficult, present amazing creative opportunities. You may not be able to explore the world, but you can invite the world to come to you. Use this time to push your boundaries and hone your unique vision. This might involve experimenting with different kinds of edits of the same image. “I love the detail and specificity possible in Photoshop layers,” Emily says. “There is no better place to adjust non-destructively.”

Pursue a unique vision in the subject you photograph, too. “When people travel to a location, so often they want to get ‘that photo’ — the one that everyone takes when they visit. But I think that is a mistake. Photography is all about seeing the world in a different way and expressing how what you see speaks to you personally,” Emily says.

If you look out at the water and see a boat that catches your attention, ask yourself what specifically caught your eye. Was it the shape of the boat against the water? Was it the color of the boat contrasting with the blue waves? Are there interesting people on board? Once you identify that element, make it the highlight of your image.

Turn raw snapshots into stunning portraits

Here are a few tools to help you translate what captivates you into beautiful pieces of portraiture:

As you experiment and explore the beauty in your own backyard, remember this great lesson from travel — things do not always go to plan. But as Emily says, “There is a magic that happens where things can go completely wrong and you still have the best time of your life. Let creativity kick in, and you just might end up with something even better than you planned.”

Download Photoshop for your computer or iPad and explore Adobe’s collection of tutorials and helpful resources for getting started.