Tricycle Collage

Making a mundane subject interesting can be challenging, but can be one of the most valuable tools for a photographer.

I taught a couple photography workshops on Saturday for the Linn County 4-H Extension office. It was great to see kids that were enthusiastic about photography. Something I tried to encourage the kids to do was to challenge themselves to photograph mundane, everyday objects and try to make them interesting. Then we went and tried to put it into practice. The location of the meeting was great for this. In the front of the building was a parking lot and was next door to a farm supply store; the back was the shipping and receiving area for that store and the other stores in the area.

It was great to see the kids all find seeminglly uninteresting objects to photograph. One girl found a walnut in the parking lot. She moved it around to new locations and shot pictures of it. Another girl took a series of abstract photos of a flatbed trailer. I wasn’t able to get copies of the images to share with you, but the images to the left show what I found: an old tricycle that looks like it had been outside for a couple seasons.

So why is this a good exercise? I think it really helps you realize that there are potential photography subjects everywhere. When looking at photos in books and magazines, I sometimes find myself thinking, “If I could only take photos there….” That can be stinkin’ thinkin’. Use “bad” locations to expand your creativity.

I’d like to challenge everyone that is reading this post to do what I asked the kids to do: shoot five photos of a mundane object to try to make it interesting. You may fail, but that is good: failing is how we learn. Doing this excercise may not teach you five ways to shoot a particular subject, but it may teach you five ways NOT to shoot a particular subject. That can be just as valuable.

If you do this exercise, post them on the web where everyone can get to them and then share the link in the comments. I really want to see what people can come up with. If the series is really abstract, please include some information about what the subject is.

Good luck and have some fun shooting.