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If you’re someone who believes that the only way to create memorable or interesting photos is to travel to a tropical paradise or scale a mountain or go on safari, you’re quite mistaken. Not that there’s anything wrong with those activities and they’re sure to yield some incredible photo opportunities, but if those were the only ways to come by memorable shots most of us wouldn’t have ever bothered to pick up a camera in the first place. Fortunately, more often than being one big adventure, life consists of lots of seemingly mundane, ordinary moments that can culminate in some noteworthy photos.
Want to know how to photograph everyday moments and turn the ordinary into something interesting? Lets talk about it.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: light is everything to photography. When it comes to shooting your everyday life, finding the ideal lighting situation can be a challenge, especially if most of your daily routine takes place indoors. But as long as there is a decent size window in your home, you’ve got all you need to create a beautiful lighting situation. Natural light filtered through a window will add the perfect touch of softness and make colors pop in the best way possible. Set up adjacent to a window and photograph your favorite mug or a flower arrangement, or take a self-portrait — anything that is an integral part of your day.
It’s common practice to photograph everything from with the camera at eye level. We shoot this way without even thinking, as if it were an instinct. Sure, this perspective provides essentially a what-you-see-is-what-you-get representation of the subject in relation to the photographer, but that’s about all it does. Understandably, it is particularly easy to fall into this habit with subjects with encounter on a daily basis. For a change of pace, try to communicate something else about the subject by changing your perspective — both how you think about the subject and how you physically see the subject. What more does the object in question have to offer? How would it look from a different angle? From a closer distance? These minor changes are capable of conveying great meaning.
Sometimes having too much to look at is a bad thing. We’re accustomed to seeing the big picture in our daily lives; the details so often get washed out amid all the distractions we find ourselves immersed in. But the details do matter, especially in photography. The details identify
what is most consequential to your message — what idea or feeling you want to bestow upon the viewer. Use shallow depth of field to isolate the most important part of the subject; all else will be blurred out to prevent distraction, but will still contribute something to the overall aesthetic of the image. Other ways to emphasize your subject include the use of negative space and using a macro lens. While each of these will yield vastly different visual outcomes, they all serve the same purpose ultimately.
The Power of Observation
The above techniques are really all about being observant, taking sincere notice of the little things around you that might go under-appreciated over the course of your day. It’s simply not always possible to get away to an exotic location and spend day after day making postcard-worthy photos. Yes, we all wish we were there. But I’m willing to bet that no matter where you are, there is something within a 10-foot radius that is just begging to be turned into a photo. Whether it’s the wooden spoons you keep in the kitchen or the park bench you sit on during lunchtime, all you need to do assess your surroundings, adjust how you think about the things around you, and determine how best to turn those ordinary objects into extraordinary photos. Give it a try, you might surprise yourself with what you can do.