There’s an annual gathering of people to look at old family movies called Home Movie Day. Because what was boring no longer is. Well, it may be, but we’re not watching just for the content but the setting. The cars, the buildings, the businesses in towns no longer there. There is much to be gained from watching these images of days gone past.
The same is true for old snapshots. While most people in the mid-20th century treated photography as an expensive hobby, so only brought out the camera twice a year at summer vacation and Christmas holidays, and even then mostly they made posed photos of each other, there were some that went beyond that. Those that photographed the people in places, doing things, engaged in living in their present day.
Things that were ordinary, boring then. But are of interest to us now due to what they show. Hey, is that Atlantic City, NJ in the 1940s? I was there in the 1960s and I remember it still looked a lot like that!
Photographs age like fine wine. They become more intriguing, more valuable. Because they stop time while the clock keeps ticking away, and thanks to that ability, we get to go back and revisit places no longer around.
I meet so many photographers in my work and the circles I frequent who don’t know what to photograph. They want to photograph grand things, important things. I tell them to photograph boring things. It could be your desk. Or your kitchen counter. Or you car. They will treasure them as time passes. After several moves and multiple cars, I love the chance to be able to go back to see ones I used to have. Places I used to live.
They’re boring photos. But they’re my boring photos. And yours if you make some.
The ordinary isn’t so ordinary once it’s no longer here, so if you’re seeking inspiration, photograph the world that is all around you. Start with the boring things.
In ten years, tell me if you still think they’re boring.
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