Monday, August 8, 2011

Checking Inspiration

Adding thoughts to my Find Your Eye class considering inspiration and where it evolves from.  My task was to choose a familiar subject or locale, take a bunch of photos, give them careful review and reflect on the results.

There are times I wish my mind would process faster, doesn't, especially with creativity.  When I was teaching I was "given" about a 1/2 hour a day for lesson planning.  On Tuesday mornings between 9:05-9:30 I was slated to be creative and Wednesday from 12:30-1:00, etc.  If I needed to use the restroom or ready my classroom with supplies like pencils, tambourines, books, drums, etc...I had to steal from that time.  Needless to say, creative juices normally did not flow in those 15 remaining minutes.  I've since learned that creativity comes at its own pace in its own way, but I do wish it would hurry along sometimes.

It took me a few days to come up with a place that I considered inspirational, but I finally thought of one....Dannah's.


I can't really say what Dannah sells-she has lots of different things; scarves, jewelery, fancy reading glasses, pins, soaps, cards, sachets, decor, and a bunch of other stuff.  A perfect place to shop for a thank you or hostess gift.  Dannah embodies an artist's whimsy.  It takes me forever to find something in her shop-it's stuffed full, and items are artfully displayed in what seems no particular order...but she knows where everything is.

Outside of her shop it always looks beautiful...I knew I'd find inspiration there.  I'm moved to take photos every time I pass by her store.  It was the ideal spot to visit.

I liked shooting on the sidewalk in front of her storefront.  I was able to ignore tourists across the street waiting for dinner reservations and the periodic passerby.  In general I'm trying to slow down when I shoot photos and so often when I do, I see so much more.  I'm trying to stop searching for the next best thing-and instead work in and focus on the space I'm in.  This was a great place to practice that.

Pink Flowers
Pink Flowers

This shot with the exclusive River Club docks in the backdrop pleases me.  The punch of color, the raindrops, the late day light on the water....all works.  I did take this with several different focus points but the shallow DOF was my favorite.  For a long time I've been aware that I like this type of focus with a drop off to one side into a blurred backdrop.  Again I'm drawn to this type of image.

Sometimes it almost feels like "cheating" when I take flower photos. I'm not a huge flower fan-I don't like gardening and don't have a big interest in learning a gazillion flower names, but I like their colors, patterns and shapes. It feels like cheating because they're so beautiful and colorful-you're almost guaranteed a winning shot. (I'm only speaking of my own flower shots-I admire the work of others and don't feel they cheated at all....this is my own hangup.)


I think this may be my favorite shot of the evening.  Honestly, I didn't even see this urn-walked right past it, more than once, until I slowed down.  When I physically sat on the sidewalk, all of a sudden there it was.  I took shots from 3 sides, but this image was my favorite.  I like the texture on the urn and tried to bring it out some in post-processing.  And...there are those beautiful flowers again, making me look good...thank you mini petunias or whatever you purple lovelies are.

Hanging Lanterns
Hanging Lanterns

I was processing this the other day when my mother peeked over my shoulder and said "WHAT is THAT?"  I guess she wasn't loving the image. 
I played quite a bit with these globe shaped lanterns-they were each unique and offered a whimsical spirit to the displays.  I tried some of out focus shots, some straight on, but again chose this with the shallow DOF.  It's okay, I'm owning it.

Shop Window
Shop Window

 For several months now I've been drawn to reflections, based on a chance meeting with James from Weekend Reflections.  I also noticed in my inspiration file a number of window photos.  I wasn't aware that I like windows in images and photographed them so frequently.
  I wonder why....what am I trying to see?  Is it a way I'm turning away from my diet of clean lines to things more abstract?  Not sure.  I do know a window shot often offers so much more than the obvious and has many layers-kind of like a Mozart Sonata-with each listen, you hear something you missed before-and windows images often have more in them than you realize you're capturing.

I did not become bored or frustrated while shooting pics.  I didn't pay attention to the time, only to the fading light.  I only stopped when a kind woman from Rhode Island engaged me in chit-chat while she munched her butter pecan ice cream.  I think I was about ready to stop shooting anyway.

I didn't shop inside at all.  No one came out and told me to "shoo" so I guess it's all good.   I'll give a shout out to Dannah and her lovely shop at 123 Ocean Avenue in case you're visiting Kennebunkport.

Window Shopping
Window Shopping

Also a shout to Kat for helping me think about the root of my inspiration.


Ashley Sisk said...

I love that you found your inspiration. I laughed at your comment about your mom looking over your shoulder. My mom used to do that a lot...she's starting to learn that while we may have a different eye that if she waits just a bit, that she'll see what I see.

Susan said...

Beautiful! I love how intimate the first photos seem; the flowers create such wonderful pops of color and soften the building and urn to create a very inviting scene.

Buckeroomama said...

I love paper lanterns --they're so pretty! Dannah's looks like a shop I might enjoy browsing and spending time in. :)

Kay L. Davies said...

These photos would make a fabulous brochure for Dannah. (I spent my working life in the printing and newspaper industry, so that's the way my mind works.)
And her address is wonderful. Anyone could memorize it in an instant.
Beautiful photos, Susan, and a fascinating post!
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Lee said...

Susan, how amazing! I know this place! I used to go into Dannah's fairly often in her old location. I always found something to love in that jumble of treasures. I'm so happy to know where she moved to.

I think my favorite of this series is the first one. I want to just sit there and sip tea and watch the world go by! I love the pink flowers sprinkled with raindrops, too, in the soft light.

Kim said...

That shop looks so wonderful. What a neat place to find inspiration. I love the urn and the lantern shot. Very nice.

Kat Sloma said...

I loved the way you slowed down and found new things to see. You brought me right along on your journey for this exercise. For that I thank you! Wonderful images and I'm dying to find a place like this to photograph now!!

justine said...

I love this series of shots especially that lantern shot, looks like you have definitely found your inspiration. Thank you for your lovely comment on my black and white

Dyche Designs said...

The shop sounds like an amazing place, I'd love to have a peek inside. Such beautiful images, love the urn one too.

Anonymous said...

I never got the whole 'creativity on demand' theory, it usually results in a solution that resembles something not creative at all. I frantically write notes when inspired and save them for later, when I have time to digest. The notes are then rediscovered when the washing machine spin cycle has completed :-(

Nice series, I marvel at how you tie these series together.

from Sharon said...

It is interesting how things evolve in our lives. You had a sudden hearing loss and had to leave your teaching position..teaching music. How difficult that had to be, how lost you must have felt. But with time our path makes subtle turns and you are now exploring in a different form of expression..writing and photography. Two talents that it is obvious you possess. Your blog is very appealing, always love the dark backgrounds. Your posting is very informative and you take us on your journey. The first shot truly is a winner and I agree with a previous commenter that it would make a wonderful brochure. But I also love the urn shot, the way you filled the entire frame. It looks like an oil painting, the colors, textures and composition. I will look forward to what you choose to post on your blog. The best to you..we have visited Maine many times..truly a beautiful state. I hope real estate is better than many other places. smiles: Sharon

Ellie said...

What a lovely shop. I'd really love to spend some time in there.
Your shots are wonderful - so many interesting things to look at. I really like the one with the urn and the last one of the shop front. Lovely

Brenda said...

An amazing site for inspiration! And your photos reflect that.I love the urn and the way you composed that shot - and had to laugh because like you, I do not know the names of any flowers either. Isn't it exciting to find something that you would have missed without the process of slowing down?

Carol Blackburn said...

Great shots, Susan....looks like an interesting shop.

JM said...

What a beautiful cozy little shop! The detail shots are truly lovely.

Rosie said...

I love your set of photos and I also loved reading your comments! I can so absolutely relate to what you're saying! Just wonderful!

urban muser said...

great shots! i love that you were able to find your inspiration.

Christine E-E said...

oh... wished I lived on the East Coast so I could stop by this shop. I'll bet the holidays provide more photo opportunities??
being that I love details & close-ups, I have to say I love the angle of the paper lanterns... lovely!

Ms. Becky said...

wow, a splendid, thoughtful post. I feel as though I walked along with you on this one. Dannah's looks like one of those spots that take a good long time to explore. I love those lanterns. and this - "work in and focus on the space I'm in."
yesterday I went to the art museum to take in the China exhibit before it leaves town. I slowed down and took photos that I wanted to take, not photos that I thought someone else would like - know what I mean? that happens a lot, being influenced by what I see others doing and thinking I have to subscribe to that style, or whatever. like using textures, which I rebel against wholeheartedly!!! it isn't that I don't like them, because I love what people do with them, but using them makes me feel as though I'm cheating, sort of like photographing flowers I guess. well, this has been pure pleasure, as always. I do have a fave too - 123 Shop Window. love it. have a fun day Susan.

Leanne said...

What a great shop. These photos are beautiful, and I loved to hear what you are inspired by. I really like that shallow DOF as well so my favourites are the pink flowers and the lantern.

lisa said...

Such wonderful photographs Susan, and it looks like Dannah's is absolutely a photographer's dream!

Laloofah said...

Playing a little catch-up (not to be confused with ketchup) while I have a minute. This post caught my eye and had me smitten immediately! I love, love, love all the photos! Expect a windier-than-usual comment to follow... :-)

I think I remember Dannah's, not so much from when I lived there as from when I'd come home to visit when I was in college and/or the AF and mom would take me there. Sounds like a Mom kinda shop, doesn't it? (Lack of beer can whirligigs notwithstanding! lol!) Or am I thinking of somewhere else? Do you think she was there in the early-mid '80s'? (Oh man, that sounds so ancient!!) Well, regardless, her shop sounds like scads of fun, and everything about the front of it is so beguiling! That's a wonderful photo! (if she's smart, she'll buy it from you and use it in her marketing endeavors!)

If I had to choose my favorite photo in the bunch, it would be a tie between the pink flowers and the urn. And not just because they're of flowers, either. :-) Those photos are just gorgeous! The pink flowers are so magnificent in shape and color, and I love how they cascade, especially with the out of focus, twilit water and boats in the background. And the shimmering raindrops are so pretty! They make the flowers look bejeweled. :-)

I think those mini petunias in the urn are Million Bells, and very fancy looking ones (those are one of my favorites, I buy them in various colors every year for our patio). That urn is beautiful, it would look quite at home on the steps of a Tuscan villa. But not only does slowing down to take your photos make you notice more, slowing down to look at them on your blog does the same for me. And so I noticed what I might have otherwise overlooked, which is the very pretty little square pot sitting beside the urn. I love the white floral scroll painting on it! If that had a for sale tag on it, I believe it would have to come home with me. Tell you what, you go get that and ship it to me, and I'll send you a beer can whirligig in exchange. Would you prefer Coors or Bud Light? ;-)

Thank you for an absolutely lovely post!