Embracing the Mundane

Radio Flyer - Austin, Texas

Radio Flyer – Austin, Texas

Movies, TV Shows, Social Media and Blogs, even this one, show a wonderfully exciting world of travel and excitement. For good reason. It’s not very exciting showing the realities of everyday life. Most of the time, for most people, life is kind of boring. It’s not very exciting showing the mundane. But that’s exactly what I want to do in a new collection, that I’m calling Daily Life.

The challenge, photographically and creatively is to show Daily Life from a slightly different perspective. How do you make the mundane, exciting. Is it even possible? If I lived in New York City or Tokyo, a place with a rich street life, things will decidedly be easier. But in Austin, living a suburban existence will certainly tax my abilities.

It doesn’t take as much creatively to make landscapes in a beautiful place (though I admit, its execution could be challenging). From an American perspective, the exotic temples of Asia or the cobblestone streets of Europe are easy subjects. But how do you make everyday life in a U.S. suburb, exciting?

Why do this? Ideally, it’s to hone one’s observational powers and push creativity. Seeing interesting compositions in a boring place trains us for the exciting trips. This is where I have an advantage over someone living in New York. I need to work harder to make interesting images. It’s the challenges that force us to improve.

Consequently, when I do travel, I’m struck by a firehose of visual imagery. I see so many possibilities that I’m nearly overwhelmed. I shoot like crazy, desperately recording all that strikes my fancy.

I’m worried though. Perhaps in the way most creatives do. Inevitably, my Daily Life shots will use the same compositional rules that I’ve developed over the years. Sure the subject changes, and all the mumbo jumbo about seeing creatively sounds great. But can I actually do it? I’m not sure. I guess I’ll just have to give it a try.


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4 thoughts on “Embracing the Mundane

  1. I think learning to see creatively is the most difficult skill in photography. I’m not a “creative” myself, meaning that creativity does not come naturally. My mind is more analytical. What helps me to see creatively is to avoid my natural inclination to be a hunter and gather of subjects and coming home with a memory card full of shiny objects. I try to not think in terms of subject but rather in terms of emotion, feeling, passion, tension, light, shadow and take a photo that represents the more intangible things. Sometimes I’m successful (I think.) Check out my friend Jim Trahan’s work. He is a master at making the mundane look amazing. https://www.flickr.com/photos/62496026@N03/

    1. Mike, thanks for sharing Jim’s work. I’ve never seen it before. Beautiful photographs, great eye and all the more impressive that he shoots with film, often without a meter.

  2. I never learned the rules, but I have always instinctively followed them. I do it so automatically, I don’t realize what I’ve done until I look at the captures on the computer. You probably do the same. You don’t have to think about composing. You just do it. The hard thing is NOT doing it. It’s surprising how ruled we are by the rules we don’t even realize we are following.

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