The magic of the mundane

Don't overlook tiny beauty

Expand your creativity and refresh the joy of taking pictures.

So, what is a subject?

The point is going to be: "Anything can be a subject, so why the heck aren't you expanding your repertoire by photographing some new things (in new ways, of course)?"

But I've gotten ahead of myself. You probably already know this, but I'm intrigued by how conventions--cultural, our craft, and personal—guide our choices and inhibit our creativity. Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than in what we choose to photograph or what we choose not to photograph.

Last night's beer paid dividends in the morning when I discovered the early sunlight highlighting the discarded bottle cap. Not your usual subject, but its graphic nature appealed to me.

As of late I haven't photographed the toilet, a beer bottle cap, my shoes outside the door just soaked by an overnight rain, the garbage can, a telephone pole (or a telephone) or a doorknob in my house. I did say as of late, because I have photographed many of these things in the past as have other photographers, some whose work became famous.

Just start shooting

You can think about this, you can intellectualize it, but the only real way to expand your photography and creativity is to actually force yourself to take pictures of new things (in new ways, of course, he says again). There's a good chance the results will be lousy, especially at first. But consider it a form of cross training that will eventually pay off with greater photo strength and flexibility.

Attracted by the bottle cap above, I decided to give the bottle a shot. Shooting directly into its opening revealed a nice abstract of green hues.

If you can get into the spirit and undertake what might seem a fruitless task, look for offbeat subjects with otherwise attractive photo qualities. It might be a soft sidelight that rounds out the form of a doorknob. The button on a baseball cap. A drinking glass left on a windowsill. Or a harsh sidelight that declares the shape of a light switch and the paint texture on the wall around it. Or the abstract play of light passing through a plastic bottle onto a colorful ceramic bowl.

Seek symbolic subjects

And lastly, consider the emblematic and symbolic, even intimate, nature of many everyday personal and household objects. Things like toothbrushes, combs, utensils, and a favorite coffee mug may seem mundane but over time they become part of the fabric of our lives. If you can catch them in the right context or in an appealing photographic lighting, they can yield powerful pictures.

The abstract appearance of this sandblasted housing at a canal lock caught my eye. Always carrying a camera paid off on my bike ride.

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