Scenes & Subjects: Bringing out the Extra in the Ordinary

March 28

7 min. to read

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Because even ordinary scenes and subjects can become extraordinary images.

Last week, Robin Waldron, who follows Skylum Photo Group, asked the following: 

All the images on here are so inspiring...but, I have a favor to ask. I need some inspiration for taking photos of more ordinary scenes and subjects. During the week while my son is in school, I can't really take a long drive to a scenic location and there isn't much nearby that is as awe inspiring as the amazing places I keep seeing on here...

Brought on by this question from Robin, we worked to put together 5 simple tools that will help when you’re in need of some extra creative inspiration. Because even ordinary scenes and subjects, can become extraordinary images.

TELL A STORY

One of the most profound and poignant things that can be done through photography is the telling of a story. For some, that may mean a picture of your worn-down running shoes on the winding road you take every Wednesday afternoon; a snapshot of a sunflower in your backyard with the colored rooftops of a suburban neighborhood behind you; the steam coming from your cup of coffee with your weekly Saturday sprinkled donut.

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The world around you bursts with stories: hundreds of them every day. Though they may seem routine or ordinary at first, they are unique because they are yours.

FIND YOUR HERO

You may have heard the phrase “find your hero” when it comes to creating photographs that leave a lasting impression. This hero could be an odd shaped tangerine leaf on a tree that has character, or the droplet of water on a single blade grass. How about a spider after she has just finished spinning an intricate web? 

Your son, daughter, grandchildren, friends or neighbors can also become heroes. There's a story behind every object and every person. And if there's a story (even a story that you've made up a moment ago) - there's a hero!

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FEEL THE MOOD

Experimenting with mood can offer a lot in a photo. Do you want to portray a sunny spring afternoon with a white background — a gloomy, winter evening with a black background — your own creative combination of the two moods? 

Do you want the photo to be lit by candles or the natural sunlight filtering in through the window? 

Lighting is a huge component that contributes to the mood of a photo, so have fun with it. Take an object around the house or outside, snap photos of it in different areas, and see how your results differ. Try changing the mood of your photos during the editing process, too, with brightness, contrast and saturation levels.

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The best part, you don't have to be a professional photographer to experiment with the mood on your photos. Luminar, for instance, has over 70 one-click presets that make it easy to explore many moods and looks in a matter seconds.

EXPLORE TEXTURE

We’ll often take objects around from the table, to the floor, to the wall when we photograph them to see what sort of texture we like as our background (brick, wood, tile). The same goes for outdoor textures — on the sand, in the grass, or on the concrete. 

Keeping texture in mind, whether with objects or with your surroundings, makes the photos more interesting and brings them to life. You can apply the use of texture during the editing phase, too. Luminar, for example, lets you easily add textures and use blend modes. In addition, layers and brushes/masking bring forth the option of versatility and adaptability.

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BE WILLING TO EXPERIMENT AND DON'T GET DISCOURAGED

This is perhaps the best tool of all: the art of experimentation. Test. Try. Discover. 

Be eager to learn and willing to create something which yields an end result you might not be all too fond of. That’s okay! Get to know yourself and your style — find those things which get your creative juices flowing. 

Be fearless. Move around. What does the same object look like from different angles? What does it look like if you go closer to it and focus on one aspect of it? Or, if you go further away, and let the viewer get a feel for the atmosphere and space?

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Experiment with perspectives, weirdness and the unexpected. Try making your colors vibrant in the editing phase or using a black and white filter when you otherwise wouldn’t. Erase limits and let your inner child shine.

CONCLUSION

To Robin and the rest of Skylum friends looking for creative inspiration, we encourage you to tell a story, find your hero, feel the mood, explore texture and enjoy experimenting.

Of course, place matters. But your imagination and the capability to discover new things in ordinary scenes has a much bigger impact. Above all, have fun, keep making photos and share them in Skylum Photo Group

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