Photo Tip: Finding Inspiration Within The Ordinary

By | 2016-04-15T11:06:03+00:00 Dec 5th, 2015|

[cs_section style=”margin: 0px; padding: 2px 0px; “][cs_row style=”margin: 0px auto; padding: 0px; ” inner_container=”true”][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″][cs_text]I suspect that more than a few of you will be able to relate to this story and that is exactly why I want to share it. I was recently in a pretty gnarly funk that I couldn’t shake. That tends to happen whenever I find myself having to be creative on a deadline and the ol’ muse just isn’t cooperating. I just couldn’t get into a groove and it quickly became apparent that nothing productive was going to happen. So, I did something that I really wish I’d do more often—I grabbed my camera with one lens, jumped in the Jeep and made my way to downtown Portland. I had no agenda and no expectation to find anything particularly creative to photograph. I just needed to clear my head.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section style=”margin: 0px; padding: 2px 0px; “][cs_row style=”margin: 0px auto; padding: 0px; ” inner_container=”true”][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/2″][cs_text]BrianMatiash_20150509-ILCE-7M2-BrianMatiash_20150509-DSC00015_ILCE-7M2[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/2″][cs_text]BrianMatiash_20150509-ILCE-7M2-BrianMatiash_20150509-DSC00019_ILCE-7M2[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section style=”margin: 0px; padding: 2px 0px; “][cs_row style=”margin: 0px auto; padding: 0px; ” inner_container=”true”][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″][cs_text]I parked in an underground garage adjacent to Pioneer Square. It was the first time that I had parked there and I was thankful for it because I surface in a part of the city that I hadn’t really explored much. Usually, when I’m walking along familiar streets, I don’t thin I look up as often. But this time, I looked up a bunch and was able to tease out interesting things about of the obvious. Sort of like a patch of contrails extending off the facade of a random office building or the way the harsh midday sun lit up a direction sign right outside of the Square.

But, it was upon reviewing the photos on the back of my camera that I got really excited because I began envisioning all of the creative possibilities I’d have when I got home, put the camera down, and fired up my computer. All sorts of ideas about style and treatments started dancing around in my head. It was quickly clear that I was starting to make cracks in my funk barrier.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section style=”margin: 0px; padding: 2px 0px; “][cs_row style=”margin: 0px auto; padding: 0px; ” inner_container=”true”][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″][cs_text]BrianMatiash_20150509-ILCE-7M2-BrianMatiash_20150509-DSC00026_ILCE-7M2[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″][cs_text]BrianMatiash_20150509-ILCE-7M2-BrianMatiash_20150509-DSC00052_ILCE-7M2[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″][cs_text]BrianMatiash_20150509-ILCE-7M2-BrianMatiash_20150509-DSC00056_ILCE-7M2[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section style=”margin: 0px; padding: 2px 0px; “][cs_row style=”margin: 0px auto; padding: 0px; ” inner_container=”true”][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″][cs_text]With my energy beginning to kick in, I did what any rational person would do. I went to Macy’s and bought two pair of jeans and rather than carry the shopping bag with me while I resumed shooting, I decided to return to my Jeep in the underground parking garage to drop them off.

I’m not sure what was different—whether it was fitting into jeans that were two sizes smaller than what I wore a few months ago or the creative jolt I had prior—but all of a sudden, I began noticing more interesting things pop out of the ordinary… and in an underground garage no less![/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section style=”margin: 0px; padding: 2px 0px; “][cs_row style=”margin: 0px auto; padding: 0px; ” inner_container=”true”][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/2″][cs_text]BrianMatiash_20150509-ILCE-7M2-BrianMatiash_20150509-DSC00096_ILCE-7M2[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/2″][cs_text]BrianMatiash_20150509-ILCE-7M2-BrianMatiash_20150509-DSC00107_ILCE-7M2[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section style=”margin: 0px; padding: 2px 0px; “][cs_row style=”margin: 0px auto; padding: 0px; ” inner_container=”true”][cs_column style=”padding: 0px; ” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″][cs_text]When I was done photographing the garage, I resumed my surface-level roaming around, looking for touches of beauty and interest out of the totally ordinary. By the time I felt ready to return home, everything seemed to fall in line.

I spent a good deal of time thinking about that day before starting to write this post. If you’re like me, you are your own harshest critic and hardest to please. While that can be a good thing to ensure a certain type of quality control, it can also be toxic when things may not come up roses. I think that’s where letting your mind explore without any expectations can be a huge boon. Simply grab your camera, walk out the door, and put one foot in front of the other. If your experience turns out to be anything like mine, then you’ll likely find your inspiration in the most ordinary of places.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section]

12 Comments

  1. Thelma Kelly Photography December 5, 2015 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the tips, Brian, I think it’s true what you say about teasing out the extraordinary out of the ordinary. There’s so much to explore right in our own backyards. Also, congratulations on your “skinny jeans”! :)

    • Brian Matiash December 5, 2015 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      Exactly! It’s simply a matter of opening yourself up to finding those little gems that are all around us.

  2. Eric Ziegler December 5, 2015 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    Nicely said. Even the “ordinary” can look beautiful if we take the time to see it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Brian Matiash December 6, 2015 at 10:44 am - Reply

      Agreed 100%. It’s on the individual to figure out where the beauty lies, capture it, and share it. A wonderful challenge.

  3. Darren Button December 6, 2015 at 12:11 am - Reply

    Brian, I carried out this exercise back in January this year and was feeling the same…https://goo.gl/photos/cacPCaBgcPvFSK6s9

    • Brian Matiash December 6, 2015 at 10:44 am - Reply

      So good, mate! Loved that story!

    • Darren Button December 6, 2015 at 10:59 am - Reply

      There’s a lot of great wonder in our world that needs to be captured with our craft….but sometimes we forget our local area. No matter how much I travel, I still love my local area and coming home.

      Been practising today “seeing” rather than “looking” as reading your book presently and posted 3 images on my page.

    • Brian Matiash December 6, 2015 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      That makes me so happy to hear. I’m thrilled you’re getting something from it.

  4. Tom Rutherfoord December 15, 2015 at 8:16 am - Reply

    There’s another angle to this – knowing your craft so well that you can figure out how to express your experience to others. The other day, I tried to capture how mangroves look like walking sticks – but my skills limited my success.

  5. Maureen Ravnik January 9, 2017 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Brian, this is something I try to do a lot of simply because I can’t afford to travel around the world. In a lot of ways, that forces you to open your eyes to more local environments and be more creative. I love the images you posted here. Where or how do you find these images to be most useful to you. Not all social environments want to step out of the box like this. It’s too easy to get trapped into looking at the status quo all the time.

  6. Anne Lou Robkin January 9, 2017 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Looking up is really a good idea! Loved the street sign with the distance to Walden on it!

  7. Sheila Reeves January 10, 2017 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Thanks for writing this. We all get in a funk from time to time. And congratulations on the smaller jeans

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