Saturday, March 7, 2015

Photography Inspiration: explore the mundane

Photographic inspiration is all around us, but many of us instead leave our cameras packed away as we pine for big travel plans and exotic locales. You can learn a lot about yourself and your photography if you spend some time photographing the mundane.

Exploring the Mundane in Your Photography

Photography is about seeing, both literally and figuratively. Spending some time trying to photograph a mundane subject or object is a great way to stretch yourself as a photographer and to force yourself to "see" that object differently.

Freeman Patterson in his Photography and the Art of Seeing described the problem of labels and how we often (unintentionally) limit our own photography: "We look at a cup and what we see is 'cup-ness,' not the flaring rim, the curving handle, the mottled design, or the reflections of the windows on the side of the cup. In short, labels can limit the amount of material accessible to our imagination" (pg. 55).

The challenge this week for BYP52Weeks is to celebrate the mundane. Patterson suggests several photography exercises to help you see, appreciate, and photograph a mundane object.

One of these exercises is to lock yourself in a single room and commit to spending 20 minutes taking 10 different photographs in that room. The goal is both to spend significant time observing and thinking about the room and the scene, as well as to push yourself to try different ways of representing that space or that object. The photograph above is one I took after spending 20 minutes in my cramped bathroom. I got very interested in reflections and bokeh in this toothbrush holder.

Another exercise is to take an individual mundane object and take at least 20 different photographs of that object over the course of 24 hours. See how your thoughts about that object and its photographic potential change over the day. See how it looks and responds differently to different lighting situations.

    Don't forget to have fun! My photograph above of a screwdriver was inspired by a weekly mundane object challenge, as well as my love of puns and double meanings.

    Push yourself to try something different in your photography this week. Grab a random object from your junk drawer or ask a friend to make a random suggestion. See what you can create that is creative and unexpected from your mundane beginnings.

    Want to learn more about Freeman Patterson or Photography and the Art of Seeing? You can read the rest of the August Photography Book Club posts here: overviewweek 1reflection on week 1week 2 (contains the mundane exercises), week 3, and week 4.

    Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is now available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.
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