Transforming Ordinary Objects into Extraordinary Subjects


Have you ever gotten that feeling that you seem to have taken all possible angles of the objects lying around your house? Your still life photos begin to look the same. If you’re starting to get frustrated, it might be time to do something more than the usual. Here are some tested ‘experiments’ you can do to the object to give it more appeal.

Freeze it – frozen objects will usually be encrusted with ice crystals that can make them look eye catching. If you submerge the object underwater then freeze it, it will appear unusual under all that ice. The colors and shapes of the object become distorted under the ice layer. Try freezing a flower head or a stuffed toy (I once saw a picture of a teddy bear all soggy and covered in melting ice and I just wanted to hug it) or a vegetable. Whatever can fit in your freezer will do fine. Try freezing objects that you would never find in a freezer such as a mobile phone. An image of a frozen camera will surely induce a shock response.

Smash it – this can be so much fun to do, not to mention therapeutic. If your object is disposable, try smashing it with a hammer or a rock. Objects will not only appear different, but they will also grab the viewer’s attention.  Glassware, beer bottles, ceramics, fruit, plastic figurines; anything you can afford to break can be a potential subject. If your equipment is capable of high speed photography, you can even take fantastic shots of the object in the moment of being smashed. Some objects break into pieces when smashed while others just become dented and mangled. You can play around with the strength of your smash since the outcome will also vary.

Burn it – this can also be a fun activity as long as you are careful when playing with fire. An image of a household object can look very mundane. Burn this same object and you will suddenly be presenting it in a whole new light. Try to capture images at various times of burning, from the start when the object has just caught fire until the time when it has burned to a crisp. Needless to say the camera should be a safe distance away from the flame. It is entirely possible that you can get so engrossed in getting the shot that you might not notice when something else is burning, like the camera or your hair. Some objects don’t burn out. Rather, they melt, which leads me to my next suggestion.

Melt it – when an object melts, its details start to run and deform, making it appear unrecognizable at times. Plastic, rubber and wax objects are ideally perfect subjects. See if you can get a multicolored object which you can melt and take a picture of. All those colors will start to blend and warp and you just might end up with a very interesting shot.

Twist it – some objects are flexible and can be bent and twisted. Twisting an object changes its shape and contours, and you can show a new take on the old boring image. The photo to the left is a close up of the twisted section of a green balloon (the kind used to make balloon animals).

Paint it – go crazy with paint by dunking the object in the paint can and shoot it dripping wet, or paint only portions while leaving other parts alone, spray paint it, paint it with nail polish, airbrush it, paint patterns on it. Okay, this is sounding more like a multimedia project but won’t it be fun? Plus your subject will certainly have that extra thing going in your shot.

Create unusual pairings – aside from your subject, include another object in your shot. The more creative you are with the match, the more impact the image will have. Instead of showing objects that ordinarily go together, use a secondary object that you wouldn’t normally think of using with your subject. For example, instead of showing a cupcake with a paper napkin beside it, why not stick some push pins on the pastry instead. This might look weird but when you’re experimenting, weird is very much welcome. 




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