The Little Things | What To Photograph When You Think You Won’t Find Anything NewPosted by Kristin Baker on Jan 17, 2017 in Blog | 22 comments
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.
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.