The Little Things | What To Photograph When You Think You Won’t Find Anything New

I am beginning my fifth year as a part of Capture Your 365. With each new year comes a bit of anxiety stemming from my fear that I will not find  anything new to photograph.

My girls are grown and I have no grandchildren; so, I have no constantly changing little life to document. I’ve had the same job for twenty-five years so things there are status quo.  I have been married to the same guy for my entire CY365 career.  The only thing that is changing with him is the ratio of gray hair to no hair…he is usually a willing subject so I have documented this progression fairly well!

Despite my trepidation every January, for over 1400 days straight, I have found something every single day that has been meaningful enough to photograph.  I owe my success to the incredible support and encouragement that exists in this community.

Earlier this month I took this photo in response to the prompt, “Overlooked.”

My initial thought behind it was that I overlook the fact that every morning, without fail, my husband has a fresh cup of coffee waiting for me once I finally make it to the kitchen.  As I thought about what narrative I might include when I posted in the CY365 Facebook group, the Andy Warhol quote came to mind.  Reflecting further on the picture and Warhol’s words, it dawned on me that his words are exactly what has made me successful with CY365 for the past four years.

I’d like to think that my photography has improved during my time as part of CY365, but honestly, that has not been my primary motivation.  My ultimate purpose in starting and continuing with this project is to make my life better.

Life is more beautiful and joyful when we accept the challenge to see the world differently, to see it in a way that leads to being thrilled by all of the little, seemingly boring things that make up our everyday.  The reality is that most of us have no problem remembering the thrilling things in our lives without taking a photo; it is the simple, perhaps mundane, little things that we often take for granted and quickly forget. Yet, these little things are the glue of our lives. They fill all of the cracks and crevasses and hold everything together in between the big things.

I have photographed lots of seemingly boring things:

the tea kettle that permanently sits on the back burner of my stove and reminds me of my oldest daughter,

my cast iron pans that are one of the few things I kept from my grandparents home,

the yellow legal pad where all of my thinking happens,

pasta because it is often what’s for dinner,

spoons because they are used everyday,

weeds because unfortunately they were there,

and my daughter’s teacup that is almost always sitting on the counter…dirty, because photographing it kept me from getting angry about it…again.

Even when places or events may truly be thrilling, focusing on details of the situation that are not obvious or are easily overlooked in casual observation sometimes yields the more meaningful memories later on. Last summer my church choir was in residence at Bristol Cathedral in the UK. In my mind, I created a vivid and lasting image of the grand cathedral.  I don’t need a photo to remember that. I want to remember the tiny detail of the individual lights of the quire that lit our music each evening as we sang,

vacationing in Asheville, N.C, the hammock outside our cabin,

my many years in school,

a quick visit to Seattle,

something of Thanksgiving other than turkey.

Looking back through my previous years of CY365 photos, I realize that what I have is a visual “bottle of glue.”  I have photos that say something about where I was, who I was, with whom I spent my day, or what I was thinking or feeling or doing every day for four-plus years..  I have not been concerned with a need to take a “good” photo every day, but rather to simply take one. With each picture of the day, I am intentional about somehow documenting what was going on in my personal little world or the world at large.  Again, the subjects of these photos often are seemingly little things, but their meanings are big…

On the day that a very dear friend died,

the March 22, 2016 attack on Brussels,

a response to the attack on Pulse night club in Orlando,

the Dallas police ambush.  (This was a Where I Stand prompt and I stood about ten miles from downtown Dallas.)

Admittedly, I wish I had not had a reason to take such images, but sadly, all of these events happened.  They all affected me, they are all a part of my life; therefore, they demand a place in my CY365 photos.

I do have the birthday and anniversary photos, the portraits of my two legged kids and four-legged furry kids, lots of images from my garden, and Christmas morning photos. And, there is no question that I do cherish all of them.  Really, these are the easy photos to take.

It’s the days when there are no big events or celebrations, only what we perceive to be the boring little everyday things going on, that we struggle with what to photograph.

Don’t despair.

Photograph the little things— your coffee cup, toothbrush, favorite outfit, your desk at work, the traffic, dinner, a child’s messy room—these photos will thrill you; if not today, surely they will one day as you are looking back.


24 Comments

  1. Thanks for this piece, it reminded me that I’ve survived almost 4 years of a 365 project by photographing the little things too: my shoes, my tea cup, and like you many of the things that make up daily life! I would not have made it otherwise!

  2. Linda Stroud

    I don’t think I have any words that haven’t already been said, so I’ll just restate that you are truly an inspiration, both as a photographer and a human being. I’m always impressed by your photos and your take on life in general. You have inspired me once again to look around and appreciate, and photograph, the things that make my life mine.

    • Kristin Baker

      Thank you for your kind words! The inspiration goes bothe ways! I’m glad that I have gotten to know you thanks to CY365!

  3. Thank you for posting this. Your writing and your photos are very inspiring to me. I have many times thought about doing a 365 project, but have yet to really start one. I was thinking that this year I would do one, starting on my birthday in May, but I think after reading this, I am too excited to wait. I think I will start now.

    • Kristin Baker

      Reading this makes my heart happy! Whenever you decide to begin, know that this community is here to support you every step of the way! I look forward to seeing your photos!

  4. Sharon Billings

    I had read this the very day it was posted and was so very impressed! Just now I reread and realized that I had not posted a comment. 🙁 This is only more reinforcement for my very great opinion of you and your photography skills, Kris. You are one person who is able to take “anything” and turn it into a lovely photo. Please continue bringing to our attention all the little things that some of us may miss!

  5. Thank you so much Kris for your words. Your words were just what I was looking for….to keep me inspired to photograph everyday.

  6. Sue Griffin

    Kris this is great. I really enjoyed hearing your story. Your photos and words always inspire me.

  7. Thank you everyone for your kind words. I sometimes struggle to keep my own momentum thus my thoughts (and photos) come from a place that most of us will find ourselves at one, or many, points along our CY365 journey. We can all do this together!

  8. Kris, excellent… thank you!

  9. Julie Bush

    Wow Kris….so moving and inspirational. I love your creativity and look forward to seeing your photos everyday. It is a struggle some days, to keep motivated. And you are so right, that this community is a godsend for encouragement and support during the hard times. It helps to know that we all need a boost to make this project happen. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Thank you…

  10. Caren Larsh

    Kris, this was awesome! You just changed my perspective on my CY365 this year. I have been struggling with this very topic and this was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you!

  11. Susan Blackburn

    Just what I needed, Kris. You write so beautifully and from the heart. As you photograph. Thank you.

  12. Faith Haynesworth

    I loved reading your post…seeing the beautiful images with a bit of their stories was not only enjoyable but also very motivating for me. I am inspired to look for the small, meaningful details within my life and artistically document them in my photography. Thank you.

  13. What a great example of the importance of capturing your everyday life! I love the thought of my photos being a bottle of glue for my life. Thank you!

  14. Rhadonda Sedgwick

    Kris you are such an inspiration!! I love following your photos and your “little” things. You always have a kind word and your photos are so heartfelt! You truly are a talented young lady full of life and an eye for capturing everything in such a way that you bring your life into it. Thank you so much for sharing! What a great read and a great blog post that is very encouraging and thought provoking!!

  15. Peggy Pryor

    Your words inspire me! Thank you!

  16. Julia Colli

    Thanks for this post Kris – very inspiring and some lovely practical tips. I always love looking at your photos.

  17. Amy Jordan

    Wonderful Post Kris! You have an amazing talent for finding beauty in the ordinary and being able to photograph it in such a way that it becomes something truly extraordinary! You are an inspiration to us all!

  18. Great post! It spoke to me on so many levels. I participated in CY365 for several years; the first couple were incomplete. Then I completed a year, took one off, did one with my iPhone two years ago, took a year off, and returned this year with a different commitment that you express so well: the desire to capture the little things that bring joy to your every day. Joining the group has been the best decision; the community, the inspiration . . . I’m looking forward to being back on track. Your photos are such a wonderful example of what I hope to capture this year.

  19. Lee Glasby

    What a lovely blog post, you really do inspire all, and like Emily I think that your creativity is amazing.

  20. I LOVE this Kris!!!!! Wow– so love your creativity and your encouragement– 🙂

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