” There’s Nothing To Take Pictures of…”

” Oh, Wailly, Wailly, Wailly “, as the Nac Mac Feegles might say. Or ” Nonsense ” as I might say. Nothing to take pictures of is the best sort of subject there is for the amateur.

Professionals have subjects that are thrust upon them – by editors, clients, advertising agencies, brides, government agencies, etc. It is a comfort to have one’s work cut out, but the people who do the cutting are always armed with scissors…or knives. The work has to be done and has to be done to the satisfaction of someone else – not necessarily to one’s own.

The amateur, on the other hand, has the whole wide world to themselves and can pick and choose what to do with it. Some take on the competition business and find eventually that they are…like the pro…shooting for a client. In the case of the club comp, it is for a judge.

How much better to do it for oneself – for the art in every heart. And we can find an expression for that art as close as every garden, every forest, every beach, or every street. We can also find it in the face and body of every person, did we but have the courage to look.

You know Jacksons – the art supply people? One in every second suburb…and if you can’t find them, there’s Riot Art and Craft or Spotlight or dozens of newsagents. They sell coloured paper, glue, cardboard, and scissors. Give yourself permission to make a mess on the kitchen table and make a paper forest with a castle in the background. Take pictures of the kids – or the parents – in costume as Wagnerian opera singers. You’ll find that people will fall in the spirit of the thing and be fighting for the role of Siegfried, Brunhilde, and Fafner.

Red. It’s winter – red stands out. Go out with a cut lunch and bus fare and shoot all the red things you can see. A day out will give you an exhibition worth for sure.

Stalk someone. Possibly not the local gang boss or the President…but pick someone whose life needs to be documented and persuade them to let you do it. Make two books – one for them and one for yourself…of what you discover.

Find the most iconic land or seascape in your district – something that is really cliché-worthy – and set out to make a series of images of it:

a. The iconic postcard tourist book tea-tray image. Make it as kitschy as necessary until it becomes an embarrassment to the family.

b. A truly unusual and beautiful image of the same spot – possibly framed differently, certainly lit and captured differently, and treated with the respect that the tourist trade never accords anything.

c. An ” Art ” shot. If you are not certain what art is, go to the local public photographic pseuds gallery and see what’s current. Try to treat the thing as if you were a sophomore photographic student with an assignment due. If it helps, wear red shoes and mascara.

d. A technically perfect shot in the manner of the 50’s German school. Hard to do, boring, and very dated, but you’ll be busy for a week.

And you can self-assign as many looks as you like to that one theme, and pursue it month after month.

Nothing to take pictures of? In reality, not enough time to do all your ideas justice!




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