April 19, 2012

Extraordinary Ordinary

I'm taking a great online photography class, Superhero Basics, from Andrea Scher. Her Monday lesson resonated deeply with me (and echoed my current experiences and insights). She wrote about elevating the ordinary. As motivation for this, it's helpful to think about gorgeous, mind-blowing visuals (e.g., incredible sunsets, delicate details of flowers, brilliant colors in a garden). These are often best experienced, as few photographs do them justice. If you see something extraordinary, then just see it; drink it in. 

But let's face it: most of life is not filled with extraordinary visuals and experiences. Most of life is filled with the ordinary. To bring out the extraordinary in the ordinary, we need a combination of play, mindfulness, creativity, and willingness to experiment. As Andrea puts it: "Take something that on the surface is not beautiful and see it into beauty" [emphasis hers]. I love the idea of seeing something into beauty. I love this idea not only for photography, but for life. How can we see a difficult interaction into beauty? Or see ourselves into beauty? Or see doing the laundry into beauty? Or see grief into beauty? These are thought-provoking and emotional questions.

After work on Monday, I toured my backyard and looked at my plants. (Oh they loved the rain we got Sunday.) As I walked up the steps to my house, I noticed all the tree droppings on the mat--a mat I just cleaned off the day before. My first thought: these tree droppings are so messy and never seem to end. My second thought: these tree droppings are beautiful.  I spent five minutes photographing the mat. And guess what? Afterward, I was in a much lighter mood.

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