Beauty in the Mundane

As photographer-artists, what is it we are hungry for, and what we are searching for?

We are searching for the beautiful. The beautiful as an aesthetic concept. Beautiful as an image which uplifts us, inspires us, and gives us the great vigor and great will to live!

What is the mundane? Mundane comes from “mundus” (the world). Anything worldly, “ordinary”, “common”, and everyday.

Santa Monica, 2011. Shot during my lunch break at the mall.

Beauty in the mundane is thus anything which is beautiful in the world. Discovering beauty in everyday life is the goal!

Why this is a powerful notion

Most of us live boring existences. The 9-5 grind. I even recall HOW BORING my old student job was working in the IT department. Too much time in front of a screen, not enough time exploring in the world.

My hunger for novelty, adventure, the world!

One of my great dreams when I was in college was this:

Travel the world and make great photographs.

Even though I was living in LA, I felt bored. Perhaps it is my personality and character to desire more novelty, more experiences, more smells, more sights, and more adventures. I hate lack of stimuli and randomness/chaos.

Life post-adventure

My first big adventure was backpacking through Europe for about a month, hitting up all the big spots:

  • Paris
  • Florence
  • Venice
  • Prague
  • London
  • Rome
  • Cinque Terre

I had a great time and made some good photos. But then what? I am thrust back to “everyday existence”, and bored once again.

Can you make great photos in everyday life?

Santa Monica, 2011. After work.

Let’s assume you got a 9-5 (or the noveau 10-7pm Silicon Valley job). Is it still possible to make great photos on an everyday basis? I think so.

For example, you can photograph your busy morning commute. Use RICOH GR III, or an iPhone Pro (ultra wide angle mode).

You can then take a walk during your lunch break, and just shoot outdoors! I used to do this when I had a 10-6 tech job. I didn’t eat lunch — I just immediately left the office, wandered around, and shot photos.

Or perhaps you can then shoot after work. Just for 15 minutes outdoors. Or drive somewhere and photograph. Or go to a restaurant and bar and make photos. If you watch tv, Netflix, or play video games at night — try to replace this with making photos.

Or you can be like Tom Brady and try to go to bed at 8:30pm every night. Then wake up hyper early, and use the morning to make photos.

A trip down memory lane

Old photos from nearly a decade ago. Some thoughts:

  1. My photography really took off after I discovered the use of flash. Even using flash in macro mode on my old Canon SD600 powershot was effective. A thought: more photography should be done with iPhone and flash.
  2. My photography really took off after focusing on street photography. Good to roam and shoot everything, but once I discovered street photography was my favorite, honing on it was good.
  3. Monochrome seems to have good staying power. Color photos are inconsistent with digital technology, but my black and white photos seemed to have been able to resist the fangs of time.
Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top