Quick Tip 107 – Photograph the Ordinary


Seems simple enough right, just grab your camera and start photographing whatever is around you.  You’d be surprised how many times I run into someone who says they’d love to take more pictures but they are just out of places to photograph.  Maybe that’s you… It isn’t uncommon and it’s actually pretty understandable.  There is a psychological reason for it, we all perceive the world in our own unique way called worldview (who would have guessed, right?).  Wikipedia has a pretty good definition of what worldview is in this sense:

“…is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society’s knowledge and point-of-view, including natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.”

A great example of us all having different worldviews is looking through all the photographs that make it into fine art magazines.  Have you ever leafed through the pages and said to yourself “this is crap, who would think this is art?”  That’s what I’m talking about, if we could look at that image from a different worldview or perspective we could possibly see what makes such a photograph beautiful.  The point is, we all have different worldviews and therefore we all interpret what we see differently.  The hard part is changing your perspective to see your world a little differently so you can point your camera at something you may not otherwise photograph.  Once you start to step out of the norm (your norm) you’ll find that things that used to look like boring subjects become some of your most interesting work.

Here are some exercises you can try to get you outside of your comfort zone:

  • Use your aperture (like the image above) to really isolate part of an image
  • Choose a color you are going to photograph and only photograph that for a day, a week, or a month
  • If you primarily shoot in color try switching to black and white for a while (and shoot in color if you normally shoot in b+w)
  • Grab a vase, fake fruit, or other inanimate object in your house and try to make it look interesting with lighting (i.e. shadows)
  • Look at other people’s photographs (Flickr is a great way to do this, you should do this often for ideas and motivation)
  • Change your actual perspective by getting below something, above it, diagonal of it, up close, far away, etc.

Something that has been hugely helpful to me is making myself a note card that I keep in my camera bag that reminds me to do some things I wouldn’t otherwise do.  It’s just some words I jotted down to remind me that there are other ways to photograph than what is normal for me.  Words like, black and white, panorama, multiple exposure, long exposure, zoom effect, etc.  I highly recommend you grabbing an index card and jotting down a few words that represent some shooting styles that you don’t normally do and give them a whirl.  Good luck!

Other Links You May Find Interesting:

Guide to Using Your Camera in Manual Mode

Easy ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed Graph

Other Quick Tips
Playing with Shadows in Photography
Things to Photograph During Bad Weather

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