Making the Mundane Magnificent: Finding Inspiration in Everyday Objects
Chances are you have a tourist attraction in your town. Each day people crowd around and line up to take photographs of it. If you think of the most photographed tourist spots in the United States, you probably come up with the Statue of Liberty, San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, or Grand Canyon.
Thousands of pictures a year are taken at these destinations, however despite all of the mundane images some people can still produce incredibly unique and breathtaking photographs of these attractions.
If you study the most impressive photos you will find consistent aspects that make the mundane magnificent. To fully appreciate the qualities of such fine art, you should consider working backwards, finding inspiration in everyday objects.
A simple way to make better photos of ordinary objects
Step one – pick something, anything
Pick a simple object from around your house that you see everyday. It doesn’t have to be anything special, just something you use mindlessly each day. It could be anything from your car keys, to a spoon, or a pencil.
In this example we’ll try to make a picture of an ordinary mailbox unique and interesting. This first photo is an example of a mundane run-of-the-mill photograph of a mailbox (above). You should duplicate a similar photograph of your object. Use your camera or camera-phone, and without giving it much thought, just snap a picture of the scene.
Step two – choose a unique camera angle
There are a few variables involved in composing a unique image, but an important one we can explore is camera angle. Beginner and amateur photographers tend to take pictures at the angles in which we are used to naturally seeing things (eye level). One example is a photograph of a pet taken from a standing position looking down at the pet. This is the most common perspective of pet photographs, thus it also tends to be the least interesting or unique. While this is a often heard tip, it gets to the heart of why the angle of a photo is so important. Getting down at ground level provides a perspective that adults are not used to seeing of a pet.
Start to think about atypical angles to which people are not generally accustomed. In the pet example, simply lying on the floor and taking a photograph from the perspective of the ground, creates a much more interesting perspective.
In the mailbox example, this photograph (below) was taken from the ground, looking up. By shooting the mailbox at a wide angle, the post of the mailbox becomes slightly distorted and creates a powerful and aggressive look. The mailbox looks much farther away than it is in real life. Furthermore, who ever looks at their mailbox from the ground? It’s a perspective most people are not used to seeing so it creates a unique presentation.
In this next image you are seeing the mailbox from the perspective of the flag. The subject becomes the flag, and creates a sensation that the flag has a meaningful and powerful purpose; there is mail that needs to be picked up!
When taking pictures think about how you can present the photo in a unique fashion. Is there any interesting angle you can get? Can you lie on the ground and look up? Can you get far above and provide a birds-eye view? Look at the people around you, and try to do something different from what everyone else is doing. Often we might see photographers in these awkward positions and think they look silly, but the result is usually a great photograph.
Go beyond just shooting the easy way
Chances are if the picture you are taking is convenient and easy, it won’t be original and breathtaking. Try to get to a place no one else is willing to get to, like climbing a wall, or laying on the ground, or holding the camera high up above your head. These unique angles, blended with the willingness to get into positions others aren’t willing do, typically provides photographic results that are above and beyond the norm.
Even with the most mundane objects, taking some time to think about how you can take the photo differently, can result in a stunning perspective, or unique angle, that makes the ordinary extraordinary and the mundane interesting.
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