We are in a world where beauty, keeps getting redefined, and we are constantly bombarded by flashy images, well composed images , and the search for perfection and ‘fineness’ in the images we see. Beauty to me, is seen in uniqueness and usually it can be seen or felt when attention is paid to the object, place, person, thing or even the activity. This is where the mundane, can have a certain charm and beauty which is mostly ignored by many of us in our busy day to day life and quest for the search of absolute beauty, and social media likes and comments and hails.
In this post, I will talk about growing your observational skills and becoming a more attentive person through photographing the mundane objects around your environment. What is mundane? Mundane is basically any ordinary thing. Not so unusual, routine common etc.
Photography, often seen as a medium for awesome portraits, landscapes, fashion, weddings and events, and many more, holds an unexplored treasure especially in our part of the world – which is the art of object study. This art not only helps you appreciate the world around you but also enhances your photography skills in wonderful ways.
I remember about 4 years ago, while documenting a workshop with a fellow photographer; he said to me: ‘‘ You are wasting the shutter count of your camera on unnecessary things that don’t bring money”. I patiently educated him on why I do this and a few are outlined below.
1. The Beauty in the Ordinary
Objects we see and interact with every day are often overlooked, yet they have a unique story to tell. From the intricate details of a weathered and old Bible to the play of light on a mug or the pillow on the bed, these objects offer an avenue for exploration. By turning your lens towards the every day, you begin to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.
2. Developing an Eye for Detail
Photographing everyday objects sharpens your eye for detail. Whether it’s the texture of a tree bark, or the pattern or colours seen in a cloth, paying attention to these little differences and uniqueness trains your mind to notice the subtleties that make an image inviting, fresh, and engaging. This higher awareness helps to improve your ability to compose aesthetically satisfying images.
3. Finding Creativity in Constraints
Limiting your subject matter to mundane objects may initially seem boring and limiting, but it’s in this mixture of limitations that creativity is brewed. Working with everyday items forces you to explore angles, lighting, and composition in ways you haven’t considered. This practice grows your ability to think deeply and apply creative solutions to any photographic challenge in the future. Humans thrive in limitations and challenges. Squeezing beauty from the every day will certainly drive you to think more and be creative.
5. An Exercise of Patience and Perspective
Object study requires patience. It forces you to slow down, watch, observe, see, and wait for the perfect angle, moment, or composition to capture. This teaches not only the value of patience in photography but also the necessity of perspective. A seemingly boring everyday object can become a captivating subject with patience and a growth mindset. It will become as the Transfiguration of Jesus mentioned in the Bible.
6. Practical Ground for Learning Techniques
Mastering photography involves more than understanding the settings of the camera. Object study provides a practical ground for honing various techniques such as macro photography, depth of field, and lighting. These skills once heightened through capturing everyday items, become invaluable tools in your photographic repertoire. You can easily apply these when on properly paid jobs where your stress level and time constraints race against your creativity and experimentation.
7. Enjoying Photography Purely
In the pursuit of the best and perfect images, photographers often forget the relaxation, joy, and enthusiasm that drew them to the art in the first place. Object study brings this back to simple pleasure. Whether it’s a panty on a drying line or a bicycle bathed in warm light, these photographs become a celebration of the ordinary.
In conclusion, enjoying and learning photography through photographing the every day will enrich your life in many ways. In some cases, you can gift the images to friends who need them for articles, printed and framed for decoration, sold via stock agencies, or even postcards.
So, next time you’re with your camera, consider turning to the mundane. I promise you will fall in love with it. Pay attention to the textures, shapes, colour, interaction with other objects, black and white, in soft light, hard light, with a macro lens, wide aperture lens, fisheye, underwater and however, you play with it.
The images in this post were made when I visited a friend. I saw this decorative object on his dining table, and the lamp with wall mirror. I used the Lumix GX1 camera (released in late 2011) and a 35-100mm lens to make the images. Images are straight out of the camera for added restrictions and fun (just a crop here and there). The camera had a faulty screen so I only used the histogram to gauge exposure. This limitation is awesome for growth. Oh!, and I found a broken phone screen protector which I used for some fun light effects.
So, next time you’re with your camera, consider turning to the mundane.
I hope this makes you start paying attention and also causes you to slow down and take life easy. Share your mundane images on social media with the hashtag #nanareshteaches.