It’s a common misconception that you have to be in a stunning place to take a stunningly good picture—the ocean at sunset, a
trailer park after a tornado, war, a wedding, the Serengeti. You get the idea. The reality is that you can take an incredible picture almost anywhere. It’s about slowing down and paying attention to your surroundings. It’s about trying to see those surroundings from different perspectives, looking at patterns, shadows, colors, lighting, details, and the total uniqueness of each moment.
In the 1995 independent film Smoke, Harvey Keitel plays the part of Auggie Wren, an amateur photographer and the owner of a tiny smoke shop in Brooklyn. For 14 years, Auggie has taken one picture a day, every day, from the street corner outside his store.
“People say you have to travel to see the world,” Auggie says.
“Sometimes I think that if you just stay in one place and keep your eyes open, you’re going to see just about all that you can handle.”’
When someone tells Auggie that all of his photographs look-alike, Auggie points out the infinite changes in the light, the season, and the expressions on people’s faces. Ultimately he provides a lesson about photography that also happens to be a lesson for life itself: Slow down, be present, and pay attention to what’s special about what’s right there in front of you.
What are some of the best pictures you’ve taken of “nothing special” kinds of places?