Embrace Subtle Beauty
If we are paying attention, our personal stories have the possibility of influencing our photographic style.
Point-and-shoot was my basic strategy for making images the first many years of my photography practice - even after going to school for photography, knowing all the rules, and possessing the technical skills. Don't get me wrong, there are benefits to making snapshots and I still make them 21 years post-graduation. Practice is vital for refining your art, but continual refinement and clear intentions is what differentiates snapshots from art.
It wasn't until I had life experience, a refined perspective on beauty, and something I felt I needed to say, I finally began to use my camera settings and the rules of composition in an intentional way. In other words, I may have known what I was doing, but I didn't know why or what I was trying to say.
Recently, I was beginning to wonder if I was communicating my intentions (yes, I still cycle through wondering if my art is saying anything to anyone, which is also valuable for refining your story), when artist & poet Gabriele Glang gifted me with this compliment, "Imperfection, wabi-sabi, haiku - I'm thinking your images are beautiful because they are spare, focused, elegant, concise. In fact, they are poems, to my mind."
Wabi-sabi and haiku are Japanese artistic concepts, and my photographic style was informed by a life-changing experience in Japan. Feeling seen in this way inspired me to share a few ideas about how to create photographic poems.
Experiencing the beauty of mystery in my own life, this aesthetic resonated with me - it even helped me reframe some of the most difficult events in my life. In staying true to Miegakure style, I will not be telling you the full story here, but I will say that, over the years, I have been learning to be less concerned with controlling situations and demanding tidy answers to life circumstances, preferring to instead to revel in a slow unfolding of this human drama.
And with that intention for my life, I have been experimenting and slowly refining my artistic voice to express delight in our world's subtle, mysterious beauty.
Here are a few ideas for adding subtle beauty to your images:
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We have all been directly confronted with life's mysteries as we live our way through a global pandemic. When you find yourself trying to control or rush to figure it all out, try taking a stroll through nature and turning your concerns over to her subtle beauty. See if it isn't just a little bit easier to embrace the mystery.
How will you bring subtle beauty to your images?
Kristin Perry is a nature photographer navigating life's complexities by focusing on beauty.