In the last week or two, I’ve realized something about photography that I absolutely did not expect: I like taking pictures of THINGS.
I don’t even mean works of art or pieces of architecture (though I enjoy photographing those things too.)
No…I mean inconsequential objects.
And yes, I’m actually enjoying taking pictures of both of those things!!
So, I don’t quite know what to make of this interest in inanimate objects. Where did this come from?
Maybe it’s just an offshoot of my more general interest in photography – in light and lines, etc? I mean, that’s probably understandable; I’m looking at everything with a more nuanced visual eye these days.
But the thing is, I think it’s more than that.
I was talking about it a little with my mom and dad today, and I noted (laughingly) that I’ve always been weird in the way I experience the world. It comes down to the fact that I’ve always been very sensitive to aesthetic things.
And I don’t just mean visual art (though I’m sure this quality in me has a lot to due with why majoring in Art History appealed to me.) No…what I mean is, I tend to notice things like the way light filters through a glass of water. Following on that, I can be absolutely blown away by the sight of the stars in the sky. (This is why this whole supermoon thing is so interesting to me.) I’ve felt myself affected, hugely, by holiday lights and candlelight and flickering firelight. (That’s part of what was going on with me in this post, I think.)
It boils down to the fact that visual aesthetics are very, very edifying to me – and it doesn’t seem to make any difference whatever they’re “fine” or not. In fact, far from needing to be “fine,” they can be easily be something like….the dishwasher! (In the right light!) That’s what I was laughing about to my parents – because it sounds so silly to say that out loud.
But really? It’s about the tone of the light, and the way things sparkle, and the play of shadow – and a million other factors. I’m just really sensitive to my environment that way.
I’ve always known this about myself, but I never really thought that much about it before. And now I find myself thinking about it specifically in terms of photography.
What I’m realizing is: I think I might actually enjoy photographing products.
Now, I have NO idea how to begin trying to get into that sort of work (and I’m still far too novice to make the attempt, even if I did know what avenues to take.) But it’s striking me suddenly that this (strange as it might sound) might actually be an interesting avenue of self-expression.
I know that sounds crazy! How can static objects – products, no less – possibly have anything to do with an exploration of self??
But what I mean by that is: I’ve always noticed, say, the way the light moves through a bottle of Evian water – to the point that it emotionally moves me a little bit. And that sounds funny, right? I don’t ever think about commenting on things like that to other people. Maybe my parents. But who else wouldn’t snicker? Not even to be mean – but just because it sounds a little silly. “Let’s all immerse ourselves in the beauty of the Evian water bottle.” Or whatever. So I tend to keep observations like that to myself.
But the truth is, I DO see things like that…and I FEEL things like that. And it occurs to me suddenly that maybe product photography would be a really effective means of exploring and sharing what I see and feel with other people. It occurs to me that this might actually be one of those areas where pictures supersede language.
Like, I could comment in words about how beautiful the light is through that bottle of water, and people may or may not be able to see beyond the silly…or I could just put a picture out there and show what I see.
That would be satisfying, I think.
I don’t know what I’m saying here exactly! I mean, I’m not necessarily saying that I want to develop into somebody who shoots products as my main photographic focus – because there really are many other things I’m interested in taking pictures of. Not to mention that I think, personality-wise, that taking pictures of people would suit me very well. I’m the sociable sort, I guess! And (in all seriousness) I’m deeply interested in understanding people and how they move through the world; I’m interested, if you will, in peeling back layers like that.
But I’m starting to think that taking pictures of products/objects might be a good complement to the people stuff.
And I really didn’t expect that! I guess I’ll have to keep practicing and see if that feeling builds or dissipates.