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Small things chez moi

Shadows on the wall made by a large marine lamp

Some photos taken recently at my place, chez moi. Little details, really, continuing my interest in the play of light and shadow at home. We live in a small apartment with only pot plants for company, which means that the daily changes in our immediate surroundings are limited (unlike the home of my childhood). In compensation, one thing that does constantly shift, minute by minute, season by season, is the light that streams through the windows overlooking the balcony and street below.

Strong winter sunlight streaming into the apartment

In the winter, the sun sits low in the sky. In the mornings it beams through the windows, reaching deep into the apartment, brightening and warming the living-dining-kitchen space. When our alarm goes off at 5.45-6am, we usually open the bedroom door so we can see the sun as it rises over the top of the mezzanine.

Early morning, in bed, watching the sky as it lightens

When the sunrise is especially spectacular, which occurs frequently in Brisbane, I’m usually up and out of bed, camera in hand, trying to capture the moment of deepest colour before it fades all too quickly.

A spectacular sunrise, red light streaming into the apartment

There’s still something in this documentation of the ordinary and everyday. I find these kinds of images restful, or maybe it’s the act of taking them that is so – the conscious choice to pause and take note of a fleeting ray of sunlight or a contrast of textures. Viewed together, they represent an accumulation of moments and and an overall desire for stillness, slowness and mindfulness.

Cheetah dress and guitar, looking out onto the potted palms on the balcony

Home is (in an ideal sense) partly a space of withdrawal from external worlds, a place of privacy and self-expression and an arena within which to rebuild and restore. I read photos of the ordinary and everyday at home as an articulation of this withdrawal. They are me as my most introverted self.

Our large peace lily, strongly backlit by the morning sun

I mostly keep such photos for myself; a solitary activity for solitary consumption. However, lately I’ve been enjoying the work of a few people who also appreciate small details in their immediate environments. Sharing a few of my photos gives me the excuse to write about theirs.

Close up of sunlight falling across a painting, a scene from the cult classic movie, Easy Rider

Desmond Manny photographs mundane objects as “art artefacts”, posing this subject matter as something of an antidote to the proliferation of exotic, styled and edited photographs that compete for our attention. His eye for detail produces unexpected beauty, such as the buttery knife in Toast, the spent match in Odd One Out,  and his Consider the Peanut series. Desmond has self-published an e-book about his work which is free to download from his site. I like these words in particular:

Photographing objects that are considered commonplace, that we interact with every single day in countless routine ways, places the photographer into a frame of mind that is contemplative and attentive. At once the photographer becomes a seeker of the subtle who finds beauty in details and intricacies.

Lamp shades in the kitchen, at night, monochrome

Scott Maker is a photographer living in midwest America. He doesn’t write much, leaving the viewer to interpret what they will from his images. Many of his posts are tagged “ordinary” and feature photos of everyday objects, scenes and activities; small things that aren’t usually considered for their artistic value. One of my favourite posts has to be Photos taken at a wedding, but not of the wedding, and it’s true – there’s no people, no decorations, no typical wedding paraphernalia, just a quiet portrait of the space around him. Also worth checking out from Scott are Ordinary photography at a family gathering and the film series, Photos I don’t remember taking.

A pile of second hand books, Matt Blatt coffee table and retro cushions

And finally there is Teresa Dickson, who blogs at Glance, Observe, Capture. Her Project 7 recently aimed to capture simple things each day for a week, as a way to freshen her creative energy while on holiday from her photography job. Other great posts feature her family relaxing at home (in her words, “simple things are big things”) and walks on wild Scottish beaches.

Thanks to Desmond, Scott and Teresa for noticing and sharing precious pieces of your everyday.

Bulkhead lights, powder-coated and installed throughout our apartment

8 Comments

    • Thank you Stephanie. They are the kind of photos that usually get overlooked, but I like them. I’m pleased to be following your lovely blog – nice to connect with another Brisbane-based food blogger 🙂

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