Creativity: Week 1
As a Westchester NY family photographer, with the busyness of photographing clients and my own family, it happens that sometimes I find myself in a creative rut. It can be frustrating, and humbling, and damaging to our self-confidence as artists. However, those same periods of exasperation can also be the proving ground for creative experimentation.
Ruts. We’ve all gone through them…usually more than once. And, if you’re anything like me, they suspiciously tend to coincide with the absence of sun and warm weather. So, if you are like me and aren’t content to simply sit back and wait it out (seasonally or not), we’re going to spend the next few weeks taking a look at some ways to break through a slump.
So let’s begin with our surroundings. Raise your hand if your house is a cave? No, I mean really a cave. Let me put this in perspective. Our house is a little 1300 square foot Cape Cod, surrounded by 7 extremely large evergreens. Oh, and did I mention that we’re on the western side of a mountain? Yeah, cave. Not a lot of windows and chopped up little rooms make it worse. So, that being said, the first several Autumns and Winters here were frustrating and uninspiring and, well, defeating. I couldn’t get outside. I couldn’t find space. Cue the sad face. But, after beating my head against a wall and fighting what is, I have learned to embrace it.
I used to drool over the windows and open-concept houses that many of my friends have. Don’t get me wrong, from an architectural & daily living standpoint, I still do. But, now, I really love the hard, directional light that can be found in the tiny corners of my house…in different places, at different times of the day.
So, what to do when you’re faced with small and/or dark spaces? Don’t fight it; embrace it. Plunk that wide angle prime lens on your camera (there is no room for a 2.8 zoom in this scenario), and watch the light. I know that from 7:45-9:00 in the morning, sun streams through our tiny eastern kitchen and downstairs bathroom windows. This goes for my son’s downstairs bedroom as well. My daughter’s bedroom is in the upstairs southeastern corner of the house. Her bed area gets the best light at sunrise, but her reading nook gets the best light in the mid-afternoon. Our master bedroom and the downstairs dining room get the best light in the mid to late afternoon. Our living room offers a fine sliver of light through one of its two small western windows about three hours before sunset.
I have spent days and weeks and months paying attention to the way the light falls in each area of my house. This is so necessary when you’re working with a small space. Why? There is less room to move, but more room for error. If you’re able to find the places where light falls naturally, you can then utilize those small spaces to their best advantage.
The above image was shot in Molly’s reading nook. It’s a 5×5 space dominated by a glider and one south-facing window. So, that particular day that she was having a temper tantrum, I told her to park her butt in her chair until she could calm down. I quickly dropped myself into the tiny cramped corner with my 35 ART and shot up. It’s a tiny space, with no room for me to move, but I knew where the light was falling and I knew that it would correspond nicely to her not-so-nice mood that afternoon. Squeeze yourself into the smallest section of the space and shoot up to capture more of the frame.
This image was taken from the doorway looking toward our small kitchen, which is a 14×10 foot space with very little open floor space and was also was dominated by a play kitchen at the time. Again, I had nowhere to go, but I knew the light streamed thru the tiny window beautifully that early in the morning. I directed the shot along the length of the room to give the illusion of more space and dropped myself down to their eye level.
Our “entryway” (and I use that term very loosely) is a 3×3 area on the northern side of our house. It gets no light whatsoever unless the door is wide open. Because this space is so tight, I always shoot vertically when I want to capture an image there. The vertical composition allows me to capture most, if not all, of my subject in the frame and tell more of a story with the surroundings than I would otherwise be able to.
So, this week, I challenge to work with the small spaces in your homes. Find those corners or tiny rooms that you usually avoid. Pay attention to the light and use it purposefully. Small spaces don’t have to be stifling if we adjust our expectations and work within those limitations to tell the story. Don’t fight it; embrace it. And, have fun! See you next week.
Honest & Joyful Westchester NY Family Photographer
Gina specializes in colorful & modern storytelling images. Using carefully chosen outdoor locations to provide a backdrop for each family’s story, she is able to create an adventurous and fun-filled session atmosphere. Visit the Session Info page for more details.