Photography has long been a medium where the mundane and the magnificent converge, often taking observers on a journey that stimulates the senses and provokes thought. And, in the realm of capturing life through a lens, few sayings resonate more with photographers than Ted Orland’s whimsical advice:
“If you can't make a spectacular photograph of a mundane subject, at least make a mundane photograph of a spectacular subject.”
This statement, while delivered with a touch of humor, holds a profound truth about the art and craft of photography.
Embracing the Mundane
While the instinct of many photographers is to chase the golden hours, the picturesque landscapes, and the ‘perfect’ moments, there is a unique beauty to be found in the mundane. Think about the steam rising from a cup of morning coffee, the pattern of raindrops on a window, or the shadow of a lone chair in a room. These seemingly ordinary moments can be elevated to the extraordinary with the right perspective, lighting, and composition. It's a challenge for the photographer: Can you see the unseen? Can you capture the story that hides in plain sight?
The Allure of the Spectacular
On the flip side, our world is brimming with naturally spectacular scenes, from the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon to the Northern Lights dancing in the Arctic sky. However, while these subjects are inherently breathtaking, Orland's advice has an implicit challenge. It's easy to become complacent and assume that the spectacle of the subject will carry the photograph. However, even in these scenarios, a photographer's touch, unique viewpoint, and technique can transform what could be a mundane capture of a spectacular scene into a masterpiece.
The Intersection of Skill and Subject
Orland's advice nudges photographers towards introspection. It's a reminder that while skill is paramount, subject matter also plays a significant role. The best photographers can find a balance, constantly improving their craft while seeking out both mundane and spectacular subjects to challenge their perceptions and abilities.
The Joy of Experimentation
There's an inherent encouragement in Orland’s words to experiment and play with photography. Whether you’re a novice just starting with a smartphone camera or a seasoned professional with the latest DSLR, there’s joy in pushing boundaries. Maybe today is the day to find beauty in a cracked sidewalk, or perhaps it's the day to appreciate the grandeur of a mountain range without overthinking the shot.
A Universal Truth
Beyond photography, Orland’s advice holds a universal truth about creativity and life. Sometimes, we strive for perfection, for the spectacular, and miss the beauty in everyday moments. Other times, we might find ourselves in awe-inspiring situations and forget to be present and truly appreciate them. It’s a delicate balance, but one worth striving for.
Now go, and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation through your lens.