Two weeks ago, I talked to you about my four Un-Stuck Filters, four techniques I use when I’m shooting to put a little more life into my images and give me a good place from which to begin.
But what if you’re just not seeing anything?
We’ve all had those days. That’s when I give myself an assignment. Something fun and simple. And because I so often focus on great moments and stories, my choice is often colour and reflections.
Forget the epic stuff. Forget the pressure to perform. Just focus on something that delights you.
These are the kinds of things I go looking for. Strong graphic qualities. Shape. Colour. Harmony. I shot all of these a couple years ago in Italy while I was feeling uninspired and not making my “real photographs.” Funny what sometimes happens when you stop trying so damn hard.
The beautiful thing is you can photograph colour anywhere.
Got a macro lens? Get outside and look for colour in the smallest flowering plants. Stuck in the house? Do the same with whatever you’ve got but defocus the lens and shoot so nothing is recognizable. You can use multiple exposures, you can use motion blur, or keep it more literal, but just shoot colour. Look for different combinations and don’t worry about what the thing you’re photographing is.
Your subject is colour itself. Don’t overthink it. Feel your way through.
We can often be very literal, and so we see some mundane thing and think to ourselves, “It’s just a laundry basket,” even though the light and shadows and colours might be fascinating and worth photographing.
Seeing as a photographer is not easy because you don’t just need to see the way the eye sees, but the way the camera sees.
You have to be able to see a scene at 28mm but also at 300mm. You have to be able to see elements pushed together (long lens) or pulled apart (wide lens), never mind the possibilities with motion and blur and other kinds of abstractions.
But when you say to yourself, “I’m just going to look for colour,” you’re more likely to see it. Look for shapes, lines, shadows, reflections, textures.
There are a lot of heavy emails landing in my inbox these days; I suspect it could be the same for you. I just wanted to send a little delight your way—a reminder to have fun with this. No, you can’t travel right now, but you can discover whole new worlds with a macro lens and some flowers. I once spent a week photographing whisky on ice in a glass, and it was amazing what I saw and photographed. In fact, just writing that makes me want to give that another try. I take my craft seriously, but that’s no reason to take myself too seriously.
I wonder if chasing some colour isn’t exactly what some of us need right now—just for the joy of it.
For the Love of the Photograph,
PS – Still reading? Can I ask you a favour? Almost 2 months ago I launched my new book, The Heart of the Photograph. If you’ve read that book and got something out of it, would you mind leaving me a review on Amazon or wherever you purchased it? These help so much and if you’re like me you don’t review things unless someone begs you or the book was just really terrible and you need to vent. I’m hoping a personal request and telling you how much it would mean to me, and help future would-be readers, will nudge you towards leaving a short, honest, and enthusiastic review. I’d be so grateful.
I know even getting a copy of this book has been a challenge for many of you. It really has come out at the worst time. I’ve still got a small handful of copies here at my home if you’d like one signed and sent to you. Just click here.