The secret to a steady flow of beautiful, meaningful images you want to keep forever? Finding the magic in the mundane. Follow instagrammer Sara Tasker's tips for finding the photo opportunities in your everyday life, and elevating the ordinary.
tell a story
My favourite images have some sort of tale to tell, however small or short. The abandoned slippers on the living room floor; the croissant crumbs and coffee rings from a Sunday breakfast. Resist the urge to tidy and fake perfect in your photographs, and instead let the beauty of the everyday shine through.
Look for the light
Often the best and most magical photo moments happen when I follow the sunlight around like a cat. Look for interesting shadows and shapes, rainbows and sparkles, flares and glow. Forget the rules and play around - if you're shooting iPhone, you'll find it's remarkably good at this!
The details you're going to forget
Pearl S Buck once said, "The true wisdom of life consists in seeing the extraordinary in the common." Look at your day with an eye for the details: twenty years from now, what will take you back? What are the things you really want to hold onto? Perhaps not the posed photo of your daughter smiling by a blank wall, but the way her hair curls with the steam in the bath. Her favourite drinking cup in a tiny hand at dinner; her coat hanging up on a hook by the door. Capture these moments now, and you can hold onto them forever, in a way.
It's easy to take a pretty photo of something pretty - but what about when there's nothing obviously photogenic around? Tune out the subject matter and focus on composition; look for symmetry, shape and patterns. Look for the beauty in things we tend to dismiss as ugly, like colourful graffiti, decaying buildings, the spread of weeds. Peeling paint can tell so much about a building's history if you stop to really look.
Look for contrast
There's something magical about a visual juxtaposition - colourful balloons in a dead winter tree, a Dickensian-dressed man on a busy city street. Forget the idea of a 'perfect photo' and simply aim for an interesting one, with surprises in store.
Look through the frame
If in doubt, framing a picture on your smartphone is a great way to tune out the distractions and really see what's in front of you. An interior photographer friend recommends this approach to her clients getting their homes ready for a photo shoot - "It helps you to see your everyday space with fresh eyes, and spot what a new person might notice, she says.
Start an inspiration scrapbook or Pinterest board. Follow Instagram or Flickr accounts that show real photography, beyond the typical staged flatlay shots. Subscribe to a brilliant photography magazine. What you consume will influence what you create, so choose your influences with inspiration in mind.
whatever catches your eye
If in doubt, just pay attention to what draws your eye. Chances are, if it's interesting enough to make you look, it's worth taking a shot. Sometimes that photo won't work out, but the more you play around and try, the more you'll tune into the everyday opportunities that surround you.
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