Part of creating in any art form includes finding fodder for your own inspiration. The key step between turning on your camera and getting incredible images (aside from achieving technical proficiency with the device, of course) is constructing the image itself.
“But, Dustin,” you may say, “if I knew what my masterpiece looked like, I would have created it already!”
It’s true that a complete vision of the final image rarely exists beforehand, but there are still steps you can take that will allow you to grow your ability to control every aspect of your photos. There will always be some element of chance in an art form based fundamentally on capturing light produced externally, but relying on being in the right place at the right time and just happening to shoot the right photo is a meager recipe for success.
A huge advantage of growing your confidence in controlling the scenes you shoot is that, as if by magic, inspiration will grow, as well. Just as with any skill—writing, painting, cooking—simply putting in the time to practice (even if you’re not happy with the end result) will grow the neural pathways in your brain, letting the ideas flow more freely and frequently.
All that was intended to preface this point: at any time (intended literally), you can extract from the world around you some story to tell with your camera. Your challenge this week is to force yourself to find bits of drama in as many unremarkable situations as you can. For the sake of pushing yourself as far as you can, the less remarkable a subject you can imbue with feeling, the better. In fact, you should start right this very moment! Grab your camera (use a phone if you need) and reexamine the details around you for something you may have missed.
If you dabble in multiple media, you could even write a little story to go along with your images. And when you do, please share! Post your favorites (especially those with stories) on our Facebook page or on Instagram tagged #mymikescamera #halfweekhomework. I’m looking forward to the journeys you all take us on!
Protip: A little contrast and/or black & white processing can go a long way in the dramatization of the prosaic, but it can be overdone. Go overboard, get it out of your system, then dial in the proper way to use the technique for just the right dash of style. Shadows are another time-tested technique for high drama, whether naturally-occurring or added with a little creative burn tool in post.