As you might imagine, photography is more than a job for a lot of photographers — myself included.
Just because I make a living photographing portraits doesn’t mean I refuse to whip my camera out to capture a good sunset or a vibrant landscape. My background was in landscape photography long before I started in portraiture. Landscape photography taught me a lot about photographing people on location, which is a core tenant of my business today.
But as much as I like big, sweeping landscape images, I also love photographing the “little things”. When I mention this to other photographers, they often think of macro photography, which uses specialized equipment to get VERY close to VERY small things — typically bugs and flowers.
While I’ll often use macro equipment to do the work, I often still photograph like a landscape photographer. I’m interested in the subject and the scene around it, which is why Little Things has always felt more appropriate to me.
Instead of buggy eyeballs, I’m photographing spider webs and inukshuks, flora and fungi. Typically, I head out in the very early morning, when the dew is fresh on the grass, and try to find something that most people would walk past without a second thought. That often means getting low to the ground, thinking small, and trying to figure out what the human eye might miss.
It’s like looking at a whole other world. Suddenly, flowers become bright, poppy fireworks. Webs sparkle and grass becomes a tangled curtain of dew and morning colour.
I first got into smaller subjects because it offered a new way to look at the world. When little things become big things inside the camera viewfinder, it’s like learning to see again. It’s a different way to connect with the world, which I think most people want to do on some level whether they’re consciously aware of it or not.
Of course, my love of little things went in a different direction when I discovered my love of origami. Suddenly, I didn’t have to photograph only what I could find. I learned to photograph what I folded, as well. That presented a new set of photographic challenges — lights, arrangement, style, etc. — to my world of little things.
For a long time, I used (and still do!) a combination of live subjects and folded paper to keep my skills sharp — but sharp for what?
There’s not much of a place for “little things” when it comes to portraits!
That’s true, but when it comes to events and commercial photography, suddenly my work with little things becomes quite relevant.
At most events, I try to take a little time out to photograph the small details that go into making an event great. Whether it’s a shot of the wedding rings or the handmade decor, the work that goes into creating the event is often what makes an event memorable.
I like to capture those details for my clients.
When it comes to product photography beyond a simple white background, knowing how to work with small objects in a location-based environment and how to arrange them so they fit the style and mood of the product is something I learned by lighting little pieces of folded paper.
Crazy, right? But that’s the power of the little things. They’re all very similar, but all uniquely different. As a photographer, though, it doesn’t matter whether I’m photographing a web or a few wedding rings — the same set of skills apply for every little thing.