Heading Out Without Expectations

Most of the time when I head out to shoot, I have something specific in mind--whether I'm taking photographs for a client, my stock files, or a personal artistic project. But sometimes it's nice to go without a shot list or expectations--to simply be open to possibilities.

Photo ©2014 Lee Anne White

Photo ©2014 Lee Anne White

That's what I did one overcast morning last week in Fernandina Beach. I was on my way to the Cuban sandwich shop for a cup of cafe con leche when I made a last minute decision to grab my camera. I wandered past the same familiar buildings, but in the day's soft light and with camera in hand, I began to see things differently.

When you are simply open to what grabs your attention rather than intentionally looking for something specific, new things appear on your radar screen. It's like when I go to an antique store: If I'm looking for something specific, I tend to tune out everything else in the store. When I'm just browsing for fun, I make all kinds of interesting discoveries. That's how I found this little composition. It's just an old garage door on an abandoned warehouse, but the colorful wood, rusting bolts and disintegrating wire mesh gave me something to work with. I made a dozen or more different shots, arranging the elements in different ways. This one was my favorite.

Break Patterns for an Element of Surprise

While sitting at the drive-thru at Zaxby's one day, I noticed a beautiful stand of grass at the edge of the parking lot. After ordering a salad, I dashed home (just a quarter-mile away), grabbed my camera and headed back to the restaurant. 


What I loved most about this stand of grass, other than it was a rare monoculture not yet invaded by local weeds, was the way the tall stems and seed heads swayed in the light breeze. I placed the camera on a tripod and slowed the exposure down to catch some of this movement. This was my favorite shot, as the one stem was determined to lean into the wind at contrast to the other grasses. It's a good example of how breaking a pattern with an unexpected element changes the dynamics of an image and makes it more interesting.