Photographers know all too well the often frustrating process of seeking out “the” moment. The epic hero shot, the millisecond of unmissable action, memorializing that once-in-a- lifetime frame. And if we don’t expect anything worth photographing to happen, it can be tempting to leave our gear at home untouched.
But we believe that there is an undeniable magic in the mundane. We believe that true creative expression thrives not in ideal situations filled with aesthetically pleasing action, but rather in overcoming our perceived limitations. Epic shots are great, but the everyday scenes we become too familiar with don’t deserve to be overlooked. If we don’t automatically see beauty surrounding us, shouldn’t we feel the tiniest bit responsible to create some?
Here are just a few small ways you can start celebrating the magic of the mundane. You might just find it’s not so mundane after all.
Change up your vantage point
You may have seen the same apartment building, street corner, or busy intersection a thousand times throughout your lifetime, and you likely haven’t thought much of it. But have you seen it from above? Have you appreciated the symmetry, the vibrancy, or the humbling scale of it all? ‘X Marks the Spot’ by Isak Gabre shows us that sometimes all we need is a fresh pair of eyes (and maybe a drone) to really appreciate the finer details of some otherwise overlooked scenes.
Change your clock
During the day, office buildings can seem rather macabre. Let’s just say that an endless sea of windows, desks, and unappealing florescent lights are not exactly the most inspiring of subjects. But when viewed at night, you just might find that some of the most potentially boring scenes can quickly transform into some real stunners. ‘Night Talking’ by Johannes Alms showcases this transformation beautifully, as an otherwise “normal” building becomes an electrifying scene after the sun sets. Head out at night to see the subtle ways your town or city changes, and we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
Appreciate things for what they are, not what you wish they would be
So you probably wouldn’t be game for decorating your home with green linoleum and pastel rainbow tiling (though more power to you if you would!). But maybe many years ago, the designers of your city’s metro station thought that was a great stylistic choice. Now you can either decide to walk past the scene with curious disdain, or you can stop and see it as beautiful in its own right. You can see the colors as eye-catching, cheery, and worthy of being celebrated, just like Tekla Evelina Severin did in her photograph entitled ‘Södra Station”.
Always be prepared
Tempting as it may be to leave your gear at home (you’re not going anywhere exciting today, after all), try taking it with you everywhere for a week or two. You might be bored of the same view, same commute, same town...but ‘Fleeting Figure’ by Marta Karcz is a great example of how one perfectly timed shot can make all the difference. Karcz explains “I got out my camera to shoot an empty lane when suddenly a person came into the frame, unaware of me preparing to take a photo. The colour of her coat matched the buildings and I loved how the fabric flew in the air – it entirely changed the dynamic in the picture. Before I knew it, she turned right and the street was empty again.”
Brave the elements
‘That Snowy Day in November’ by Håkan Garnefält is a true testament that sometimes being willing to head out in less-than-ideal weather can have a big payoff. An otherwise normal photograph of a standard streetcar suddenly becomes entirely captivating and dynamic with the addition of billowing snow backlight by piercing headlights. So the next time it rains or snows, you might be tempted to stay in your warm and cozy home. But take a chance to go exploring and see how much can change with the weather.
This week, really push yourself to see the beauty in the things you’ve started to overlook. Don’t fall into the trap of only seeking out photography opportunities in jaw-dropping locations. Instead, learn to celebrate the mundane and to see the magic in it, and your eyes will be opened to a world of possibility.
Written by Niamh Wilkins
Niamh is a photographer originating from Dublin, Ireland but currently based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Deeply rooted in nostalgia and introversion, she seeks to use photography to celebrate the quiet moments for what they are in the hopes that they will be felt and remembered for years to come.
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