Something interesting in the ordinary

Way back in November, a friend asked me to speak at a professional photographers’ meeting. He wanted me to speak about how I find inspiration for my work.  At the time, August seemed a looonnngggg way off and I agreed.  Well, the meeting is tonight. 🙂

It’s been a very interesting and instructional process to think about and clarify what actually does inspire me.  No worries, I’m not going to give the whole talk here.

Once portion of it was worth sharing, though.  A critical piece to me is the practice of seeing, with a capital S.  Really being in a place and moment and seeing beyond the obvious to get at deeper levels of understanding.

On a trip a few years ago, I did what I call the alphabet exercise. I challenged myself to find the entire alphabet in images. Instead of going from main attraction to main attraction, only hitting the highlights, I slowed way down and really had to look deeply to find all the shapes.  Some may be a stretch, but that wasn’t the point.  The point was slowing down and really seeing, being present.

This quote from photographer Elliott Erwitt says it well:

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. “  

How could you slow down and find something interesting in the ordinary this week? 

Swiss Alphabet ©Gail Haile

Swiss Alphabet ©Gail Haile

Please remember to share with with friends who would be interested.  Thanks!  Have a great week!

10 thoughts on “Something interesting in the ordinary

  1. Millie Sigler

    Thank you Gail,
    I love your Swiss alphabet! Have you tried it in other places? I must remember that the next time I am in Boston — or someplace very interesting.
    :o) Millie

    1. gail Post author

      It’s a really fun exercise, Millie! I haven’t done it anywhere else, well I did start one for Clinton but never finished. 🙂 Let me know if you do one.

  2. Mary Reilly Mathews, LCSWR

    I don’t have aspirations to be a real photographer, but Kevin and I will often challenge each other on a vacation to use our iPhones & the free app Snapseed to see who notices/creates the most interesting image. Then we enjoy comparing them. Two birds with one stone: an exercise in Seeing / paying attention and companionship! Thanks Gail, Love the alphabet!

    1. gail Post author

      Yes, it’s a good exercise for anyone. We all need to slow down and notice the amazing world we live in!

  3. Tat

    Your alphabet looks beautiful and I’m going to try the exercise. Might even get the kids involved, I’m really curious to see what they’ll see.

    1. gail Post author

      I would think they would be a good counterpoint to weaving. But then I think of weaving as slowing down. I had a small loom many years ago and I was amazed how long it took to set up and then the weaving was meditative.

  4. Karen Main

    Oh wow Gail you are speaking my language today. Last year as a newbie photo taker I began a Project 365 with the intention of improving my knowledge and skill with a camera. What I did not expect was how the discipline of a photo each day would result in me seeing my everyday world in an interesting and unique way. My backyard became a treasure trove of photographic delights and my neighbourhood of 44 years a place to explore. All the very best with your talk and your continued inspirational journey.

    1. gail Post author

      Isn’t that amazing how looking through a lens changes the way we see?! This quote says it well, “The virtue of the camera is not the power it has to transform the photographer into an artist, but the impulse it gives him to keep on looking – and looking.” Brooks Atkinson

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