According to the calendar, Spring showed up on the 20th of March. If you are anything like me, just reading those words makes your creative heart nearly explode. Warmer temperatures! Blooming flowers! Longer days! Better light! No more brown and bare trees! And, most excitingly, the return of more active shooting. However, if you live anywhere like I do, here in the midwest those glorious changes have been slow to show up. The days are still cloudy and cool, the shades of green aren’t too quick to show up, and we have more small buds than colorful blossoms.
Regardless of where you live and what the weather is, we all find ourselves in seasons of slow where it’s hard to find a reason to feel inspired and pick up the camera. What I’ve learned (and can’t wait to share!) is that sometimes we make finding inspiration harder than it needs to be. We think we need to go places or buy things to feel inspired, when so often all we need to do is see what’s already around us. We need to see what’s right in our own homes.
Today, I invite you on a journey of creative re-discovery by looking at our amazingly imperfect homes as a source of inspiration, starting with the light. I don’t know about you, but for me, ever since I learned to see light, I obsessively see light. I take photos of hotel lobbies and bathroom windows simply because the light makes me swoon. My husband thinks I’m a light loving lunatic, but such is life. Hashtag, photographer problems.
So right now you might be thinking, “Ashley, I love light as much as you do, but my house has none of this light you speak of so….” To you I say, stop right there! Unless you live in a box, you have light. And sure, you might not have the same light as houses with huge great rooms with enormous floor to ceiling windows, but you have light.
Today, I want you to do one thing, watch the light in your home at EVERY window. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so figure out which of your windows faces which direction and watch how the light changes throughout the day. Watch the shadows move until they are disappear. Look at the lines and the flares…isn’t it gorgeous? Sigh.
Once you are seeing the light in your home (and I mean seeing it and obsessing over it and saying “OMG I LOVE THIS LIGHT!”) now is time to pick up your camera and take photos of the light..only the light and shadows. Underexpose, overexpose, shoot wide open, shoot at f/16. Here is where some people kill the inspiration that is brewing in them and they start getting all judgey of their work and forcing the process.
Read this out loud: Every photo does not have to be perfect. Every photo does not have to be posted on social media. Every photo does not have to go in a portfolio.
Phew! I almost lost you to the dark side of the uninspired, but I’m glad I saved you from that.
Now that there’s no pressure, see the light, shoot the light, repeat. Shoot the good light, the bad light, and the flat light in-between. Tell your kids to go play, the dog to go outside, and I give you permission to sit quietly in the bathroom and take photos of the light and shadows as they hit the toilet all for the sake of the artistic process.
Happy light chasing and I’ll be back soon with the next secret to using your home as your creative inspiration!
Ashley Manley is a serial personal project shooter with a love for documenting real moments on her small farm in Central Illinois. Aside from her family, the loves of her life are her fuji X-T2, fujinon 23mm lens, helping other photographers to stay inspired, all the black and white things, and wine in a box. She left social media at the beginning of 2017 but she loves new friends, so visit her website and shoot her an email already!