If you want to find more joy, happiness, and fulfillment in your photography and life — I recommend ‘Everyday Photography’:
What is everyday photography?
Everyday photography is a non-genre in photography. With everyday photography, we try to just make nice photos of our everyday life.
We don’t have any boundaries in everyday photography. You can photograph anything — your friends, family, food, street photography, or even random stuff you find on the ground.
The biggest thing we get suckered in photography:
We think we have to travel to exotic places to make good photos.
Or even worse,
We think we need to buy an expensive camera, or buy new camera gear to become ‘re-inspired’ in our photography.
Zen Photography and Everyday Photography
To me, I think the Zen Photography concept is this:
True happiness is finding joy in everyday life, and finding beauty in the mundane (beauty in the ordinary).
For example, I am happiest when writing, walking, chatting with friends and family, helping Cindy, cutting veggies, going grocery shopping, teaching, making photos, writing, and drinking coffee.
I try to use the camera as a tool to find more appreciation in my everyday life. I don’t think that by becoming the world’s best photographer — I will somehow be ‘happy’.
5 Tips to Make Better Everyday Photographs
Anyways, the difficult thing is to find joy in everyday life– and how do we take photos of ordinary things which bring us joy?
When I’m out shooting, I like to look for textures. Gritty textures, smooth textures, or colorful textures.
Why shoot textures?
Textures tell a story. To me, textures show the passage of time on the object. Photographing textures is a meditation on life, decay, and a reminder to myself that I will die (memento mori).
When shooting textures, I recommend shooting in JPEG high-contrast mode (either color or black and white) to exaggerate textures.
Tips on shooting textures:
- Fill the frame with the objects you find, and exaggerate the folds, and textures in the objects.
- Photograph old peeling paint, and find textures anywhere you go.
- Photograph old dumpsters, and experiment using a flash to accentuate the rust and textures in the objects you see.
To me, shooting red is one of the best colors.
Why the color red?
According to color theory, red is one of the most vibrant colors. Red mimics the color of blood, passion, death, love, and lust.
Assignment: Go shoot the color RED
As an assignment when you’re out shooting, only shoot the color red for an entire day.
Red manifests itself in different ways. Look for a bold RED color when you’re out shooting, and look for cool colors (blue, green, purple) in the background to create contrasting opposing colors. One of my favorite color-combinations is RED-GREEN.
Tips to shoot the color red:
- Fill the frame with the color red– look at the edges of the frame to fill the frame with red, to create a more bold statement.
- If you’re shooting portraits, ask your subject to wear a red accessory (like a scarf, hat) or red lipstick for them to pop out from the background.
- Red/black are a strong color-combination.
- Study advertisements that have the color red– and study how they combine colors to make a more appealing image.
3. Beauty in ordinary things
Photography is great because we can look at ordinary things, scenes, and re-imagine it in a different way.
Good composition can transform any ordinary object into an interesting photo.
But how can you transform an ordinary object, and make it look more interesting? Some ideas:
Ordinary photography tips:
- Photograph cross-walk signs, grocery store carts, and keep it simple and minimalist.
- Look at the background and the edges of the frame, and keep it clean.
- Create balance in the frame.
- Find beauty of things on the ground– like leaves, or trash.
- When photographing things on the ground, make a diagonal composition.
- For fun, find matching colors in a scene.
- When photographing ordinary objects, crouch down very low, and shoot it eye-to-eye. This will give you a unique perspective on ordinary objects.
4. Shoot at home
If you’re busy, just photograph things inside your own home. Shoot outside your apartment, or even in your hotel or Airbnb while traveling. Treat this as a fun “creative constraint” — what interesting things can you figure out to photograph at home?
Or an idea:
If you were a stranger in your own home, what would you find interesting or unique?
Things to photograph at home:
- Photograph your partner at home, photograph your bookshelf, photograph your bed.
- Shoot with natural light or with a flash. Shoot lamps at home, from low-angle perspectives.
- Photograph a bar of soap in the bathroom, or old textured wallpaper.
- Photograph your own (messy) desk
- Make photos in your kitchen
5. Stuff on the ground
When we’re walking on the streets, we usually only look at eye-level. Rather, take a look down.
Find colorful things on the ground, and do this when you’re out shooting.
Stuff to photograph on the ground:
- Shoot manhole covers
- Broken glass bottles
- Food on the ground
Concluding thoughts on Everyday Photography
Regardless of your situation in life, you can always keep your eyes trained, sharp, and strong.
Don’t be the prisoner of a genre. Shoot anything and everything.
Photograph the ordinary and mundane: make photos of your food, coffee, loved ones, and dinners. Photograph random stuff you find during your commute to work, shoot around the house, or just even go for a walk around the block to make photos.
Ultimately, I think photography is therapy.
Use photography as a tool to shoot your ordinary everyday life, and find joy in every small little thing.
Always shoot with a grateful heart, and smile :)
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