Photographing the familiar

One of my favorite photographer/teachers was asked in a seminar,  “What is the secret to making great, interesting photographs?” His reply was to travel to magnificent places to shoot.

Now don’t get me wrong, nobody likes to travel and photograph more than I, but I think his off the cuff answer was very off the mark. It is easier to see possible images when you are away from the familiar, but there are great images waiting to be discovered in some of the most mundane places, if we practice “looking”.

Frank Matthews Fish and Oysters
Lost Savannah

Almost anyone with a decent camera can get nice images of the Grand Canyon, the Tetons, or Monument Valley, and I could enjoy being there and photographing every day. But the photographers I admire most are the ones who can produce great, interesting images of the more obscure, everyday things  most of us see every day.  A Maine photographer , Robert Mitchell, in 1996 did a small book/monograph called “Near Home”, a collection of just such images. He lives in a small community in coastal Maine, where there are indeed many magnificent vistas, but this book contains images of his back yard, or a snowy street scene, and yet it has been one of my favorites for a long time.

The same goes for weddings. I am very fortunate to live in a beautiful city, a very popular “destination wedding” area. It is hard not to find an interesting spot for beautiful wedding images. But for those who may not live in Savannah, or Charleston, or any beautiful, warm place with incredible scenery who are able to produce great wedding work, you have my deepest admiration.


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