Flowers, flowers, flowers! Nothing but flowers. When I look at the photos I’ve taken recently, flowers are all I see. How did this happen? Flowers are easy. They are outdoors, in natural light. I can spot them by their patch of color, no matter how bad my vision is on any particular day. Other subjects are harder to see, harder to bring into focus, harder to light. Gradually, I have stopped trying to photograph anything except flowers. I don’t want to limit myself, but can’t seem to break through my mental barrier. I even joined a weekly “challenge,” which identifies one subject each week to photograph. I have let three weeks go by already without submitting (or shooting) a photo, because I seem to be paralyzed to take anything but flower pictures.
I decided to ask for help. I turned to the Blind Photographers on flickr, a group that welcomed me and has offered me inspiration through their photos and stories. I posted a question asking for suggestions to help me expand my photography beyond flowers. One photographer, Drew Bedo, gave me great advice:
Try some objects found around the house, a cup, a book, the mail even. Find a window with good light. Place the objects in the light and take a few pictures, Move the stuff around some and take a few more pictures. You may not like many of your shots at first. Delete what you don’t want. Keep working the light and the objects and eventually you will come up with shots you find fulfilling.
Try new subjects and different windows. How big can you get the back of a silver spoon (or any spoon)? Will the ceiling fan or light fixtures reflect in the spoon? Weston shot vegetables. One day I shot my wife’s gold chain and a string of pearls all piled up together. Another time, Oreo cookies on a plate.
Yesterday afternoon, I took Drew’s advice. I decided to use a serving fork and spoon. I put them on the counter near the kitchen window. I took a couple of shots and uploaded them, so that I could have an idea what I was getting.
Okay, not too impressive. But I did notice that the shadows were interesting. I decided to add a sugar spoon and try some more shots.
Better. Now I have something I can work with.
I love the lines of the sugar spoon. And I wanted to focus on that shadow made by the serving spoon.
As Drew suggested, I moved to different light. I took my three pieces of silverware to the living room window, on the opposite side of the house. To make things interesting, the background in this light was black.
I really enjoyed this exercise. It was fun to see the light on the objects, and the shadows they created. It was a simple, fun way to break free of my fears of failure. There were many, many photos that I deleted because they were just horrible. I am happy with the shots that made it through the editing process. I now have a little series of silverware still lifes, which I count as an accomplishment. I also have one more photo, a surprise that I found while I was playing around with enlarging different photos. A self-portrait made by my reflection in the fork.
I learned a lot from this experience. The most important thing I learned is that, when you are stuck, it is good to ask for help. I am very grateful to Drew for his advice. I had so much fun following it. I am sure I will use it over and over with different items and different light in different windows. I also learned not to be afraid to try. There is no reason to be paralyzed by the thought of failure. Yes, the majority of my pictures will be discarded as useless. Still, even in a few shots of silverware, I can find something that I think is beautiful.