Beauty in the mundane, your day-to-day is as important as your vacation photos
This article of mine originally appeared in The Costa Rica Star, please stop by and have a look around. Thanks, Solson
“That’s going to end badly.” I knew it. Having grown up traipsing through the woods with friends–something just short of Lord of the Flies, I knew a group of stick-wielding children would inevitably end badly. I scanned the park for a parent. Nope. Three minutes later, tears. Now I was parenting and I don’t have kids, just a really obedient dog. Here goes nothing.
After a quick check of the offended child my expert medical diagnosis was: no blood no harm. I herded the scattered, slightly shaken kids together and replaced their sticks with a Frisbee. This being Costa Rica, anything other than a soccer ball is a relative mystery and January winds didn’t contribute to their success. Needless to say my attempts at organizing a game of Ultimate Frisbee failed miserably. However no more sticks have been thrown and now I am the neighborhood sporting-goods-lending-center-for-bored-children, all-time quarterback, 12th string goalie, and occasional dispute resolver. The kids love me. They all know my name (I know two of theirs), they call my dog Bonita by name too.
Having made myself known and trusted in the neighborhood I started wandering the park shooting all sorts of things: Graffiti, “mejengas,” sunsets, rainbows, parents, kids, dogs, more dogs…anything. I shot film and digital and got swamped by the kids when I showed up with two cameras and telephoto lenses, they felt like sports stars…
Some people wonder why I would shoot such mundane things when I live in a country as striking as Costa Rica. I find interest and even beauty in the mundane. Those fleeting moments and interactions are more a part of our life than vacation photos, but we almost never share them. Photography doesn’t have to be grandiose to be meaningful.
I’m by no means a great street photographer but I particularly enjoy shooting people acting natural. My portrait sessions are laid back and the first fifteen minutes are usually spent just letting folks get used to the camera until they stop posing and start laughing and smiling for real. My friends and family already know to ignore me knowing I’ll wait for the moment. I make a point of telling my wedding clients not to look at the camera unless I ask them to. I look for those kinds of moments when I am shooting in my neighborhood park. Since my cameras tend to be quite obvious I like to used telephoto lenses so I can get natural interactions without having to get too close. Often I have to shoot a few “posed” shots so folks forget I’m there and relax. It’s a matter of taste, but I have been lucky with it. Try it, you’ve got nothing to lose, and you may just come back with some great shots (and probably a lot of blown shots too).
I’m a bit short on words this article so I’ll leave you with more pictures than normal. Normal pictures from normal lives, but worth sharing none the less.