Watching out for and photographing the ordinary was something I always did and still do; it's instinctive for me. But it wasn't until I read Focus on Travel by Alan Rokach and Anne Millman that I realized that was what I was doing. The book, published in 1992 and still in print, is one of my favorites, and in it, the authors/photographers say this: "So much of travel focuses on the wonders that attract visitors...that we often neglect the location's typical side...It's often an image of the ordinary that most vividly recalls a place." When I read that I realized that my photographs of ordinary things were memory triggers.
If I look back on my career, I realize that although I'm proud of the work I've done photographing famous locations, distinctive landmarks, exquisite resorts, and luxury cruise ships on assignments for books and magazines and for commercial clients, those aren't the images that I recall with special fondness. Rather, it's the ordinary shots that instantly provide a sense of place, a remembrance of feeling and often a desire to return. The ordinary subjects are the ones that resonate emotionally. They instantly bring the "That was a great trip!" response; the "Man, I remember that day!" reaction.
Keep Open To Inspiration
The truth is, no one's
going to measure you by your photo of the Eiffel Tower. No one's
going to be really impressed by your picture of the Grand Canyon. Those
photos have been made--and seen--countless times, and no matter
how well you do them, they're already imprinted in our minds. It's
how you do the ordinary that's going to set you apart.
And often it's easier
to capture the ordinary. It's going to be there, rain or shine.
The light doesn't have to be perfect. The tourists don't have
to be having lunch. All you need do is notice what's around you,
and then capture those things that add significance to your travels. They
may be ordinary subjects, but they are not ordinary pictures. They are
specific, personal memories.
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