I have just been reading a thread in the flickr forums where someone was feeling uninspired about what they saw as ‘nothing good to photograph’ – someone suggested they didn’t have to think about anything, and that ‘the whole point of lomography’ as they put it, was to ‘just shoot’.
No offense to anyone in love with the whole ‘lomography’ ethic, but ‘don’t think just shoot’ may give you the occasional interesting shot, but probably a whole lot of rather ordinary or just plain bad compositions as well.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with composing a good shot through thoughtful choice of subject & placement, lighting and choice of moment to relase the shutter.
Now, regarding: there’s nothing good to take pictures of!
If you feel this way, you may need to develop a way of ‘seeing’ your world differently. Our brains interpret and filter the information our senses send to it in ways that make it easier for us to interact with and navigate through our ‘reality’ but sometimes the way we interpret the world is constrained by preconditioned responses and experiential neurological ‘shortcuts’ that have very little to do with what it is we are actually SEEING (in the case of our visual senses)
This is a common problem in the world of visual art where someone first learning to draw is, for example placed in front of a cup and asked to draw it. Often the beginner will sketch a likeness of a cup that correlates with the IDEA of a cup they have in their head, missing the finer nuances, patterns, shape or whatever of the cup that is actually in front of them.
If you critically examine your way of seeing the world and discard preconceived ideas you might have like ‘how could a piece of garbage on the ground possibly make an interesting photo’ or ‘ho-hum the overpass I walk under every day – boring’ and so on, you may open your eyes and mind (not to mention heart) to the infinite photographic possibilities that are around you EVERYWHERE!
The mood you are in helps too, think positively and the possibilities you perceive around you will open up. If you are not having fun doing what you do, (in this case photography) then what is the point of doing it?
Walk around with your eyes & mind open. If something catches your eye, even for a moment, don’t just walk on; STOP and look closer, walk around and see whatever it was from different angles, crouch down or look at the scene from a higher perspective. Wait for the sun to come out from behind the cloud and..oh, wait! There it is! That flash of brilliant red that jumped out at you before, or that shape that is so interesting against the background, or that combination of elements that make for a great shot.
Or you could park yourself somewhere comfortable, choose a good vantage point overlooking some interesting background, be it a graffitied wall, a hillside covered with flowers or a busy intersection and WAIT…something might happen! The group colourfly dressed up in fancy dress going to a party against a dull city wall, or the goths so sombre and monochrome against the colourful floral clock in the botanical gardens or the truck with the huge lips advertising something lipsticky or whatever painted on the side passing a group of nuns. ANYTHING can happen!
Sometimes a good photograph happens from a serendipitous ‘just shoot’ occasion, sometimes through patience, planning and knowing how to use the tools given you and the right moment and lighting. More often than not, a great photo will come from patience, planning, experience AND that serendipitous moment.