There’s a famous photography quote that goes: “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”
But this statement is misleading—and certainly not helpful to anyone aspiring to become a better photographer.
Photography is more than just capturing an exact representation of an interesting subject. It’s also about the photographer’s interpretation of any given subject.
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to visit exotic places or has access to interesting objects. But, in every place, there is endless scope for creativity. And, beauty can be found in the ugliest and most mundane subjects.
The main secret is to slow down, shift your mindset, and observe closely. If you pass a scene quickly, you’ll just notice what most people see. But if you linger and change your perspective, you start picking up the small details. With time and patience, you allow your creativity to build up and adjust your expectations to start working with whatever you have available.
Here’s an example:
I was walking around at dawn in an empty field in rural Kentucky. It was late fall. I thought I’d find something interesting to photograph, but there was absolutely nothing eye-catching. I could have gone back home to warm myself up with a good coffee, but instead I tried to look closer and find smaller details. Here’s the scene:
Since it was December and early morning, there was frost everywhere. I saw a few leaves with edges covered in frost and thought it would make a nice macro abstract image in black and white.
Next, I played with some contrasting colors and tried to convey a story (the end of fall). I picked up a leaf that was lying on the pavement and placed it against the frost-covered grass.
Finally, as the sun was rising, I lay on my stomach and shot through some weeds against the sun to capture the beautiful golden light.
All of these images were taken in the same boring location.
So, next time you’re out and about, in any mundane or ugly location, give yourself time to slow down. Move around, change your angle, look closer at the small details, and shift your mindset to look past the obvious subjects.
You’ll be surprised how many interesting photos you can get.