I’ve always found pullbacks really reassuring.

Not everyone has beautiful golden fields to work with, or amazing architecture, or colourful flower fields. The good thing is, those locations are totally unnecessary when it comes to creating compelling photography.

The most important thing?

Yep, you guessed it – light.

Iā€™m lucky to live on Vancouver Island where there is a ton of natural beauty but finding light can create the same magic in an abandoned lot or cement playground.

On that note, I’m going to share a few pullbacks of my own. My goal is to inspire you to find some new (and maybe less than pretty) locations for your own photos!

1. The abandoned lot

I always get excited about empty lots, mostly because they look pretty awful in person and pretty great on the other side of the lens. Look for tall grasses, weeds, sticks – anything that will add texture and interest to your image. In this first example, the subject is backlit, which brings golden light through the weeds and grasses. Ta-da! DIY golden field.

pullback photo in an abandoned lot

location pullback

backlit photo of girl in a field by Cassandra Casley

In the second example, it was an overcast day. To contrast the soft, even light, we let the texture from this stick-filled lot add to the mood of the photos. I kept my aperture large to blur the background and soften the harsh edges of the sticks and create a dreamy feel.

pullback photo in an abandoned lot

location pullback


picture of woman wearing a red flower crown by Cassandra Casley

pic of woman running in a field by Cassandra Casley

photo of woman twirling in a field by Cassandra Casley

2. The cement school

Cement is not the most attractive thing. The upside is that it is very neutral, and allows your subject to stand out, while avoiding crazy colour casts. In this example, the light is coming in to this covered playground area from the front and the left. The light from the left creates a nice light-to-dark gradient that adds interest to the image. Bright colours and movement help the subject stand out.

pullback of ugly school photo location

location pullback

picture of boy playing hopscotch by Cassandra Casley

3. Weeds and rocky landscapes

Filtering light through trees is a great way to soften it. In this example, the light was very harsh and needed softened.

I positioned my subject in the weeds, directly in that bright patch of light. Because the light was filtered through the trees behind my subject, I didn’t lose detail like I would otherwise. In the first image, I stood just to the right of the pullback scene. For the second image, to avoid seeing the houses in the background, I stood on the log pictured and shot down at my subject.

photo location pullback with giant log by Cassandra Casley

backlit picture of woman in a field by Cassandra Casley

photo of woman with nose ring laughing by Cassandra Casley

What are your favourite unexpected locations? I’d love to hear about them!