Show Up — Pay Attention

posted in: Creativity, Photography | 0

show upYesterday I picked some white hydrangea blooms and went to work (for me it’s more play than work) making still life photographs with the flowers.

I’ve set up a still life set in my office and have been playing with using different kinds of textures and cloths as backdrops. I’m trying to figure out how to create a space that makes making still life photographs flexible and easy.

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My Still Life Setup

In the set you see above, I have a white foam core board propped behind a low table and a white mat board lying on the low table. Draped over the foam core and onto the table is a layer of white fabric and a large piece of cheesecloth. Lying on top of all that on the table’s surface is a linen napkin (not ironed).

While I had fun playing with various textures and backdrops (I tried an off-white lace table cloth – it was way too busy and distracting, plain cheesecloth, and other variations) none of the photographs I made during the day really grabbed me.

Oh well. The idea is to show up every day and do the work. And to pay attention while doing the work, looking for when the magic happens.

Sometimes you do the work and are uninspired by the results.

Sometimes magic happens!


“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles


Yesterday afternoon I got a phone call from my photo buddy who now lives in California and we decided it was time to pick another assignment card from Douglas Beasley’s Vision Quest Cards. It had been along time since we had shared a new assignment.

The card she picked was:



After supper yesterday I decided to return to my studio to go through a couple of online class videos, something I had been meaning to do for some time. I had no intention of working on the new assignment, as I like to take my time simply pondering it and seeing what ideas emerge.

As I sat down at my desk I noticed two of the vases I had been using during the day sitting on the upper shelf of my desk. Empty of flowers, they were both back-lit by the late day light. One of the vases had air bubbles all along the glass surface on the inside. The other vase was an antique bottle with raised glass letters on the front. The contrast of light and dark and the back lighting on the vases was beautiful. It was all about shapes and forms, light and dark. Color was unimportant.

I remembered the new photo assignment my friend and I had agreed to do, picked up my camera, set it to monochrome, and made a number of shots.

Ahhhhh!!! Magic.

The whole day was a wonderful reminder of the power of:

Show Up — Pay Attention

If I hadn’t spent the day doing the work…

If my friend and I hadn’t challenged ourselves to show up to do another assignment…

If I hadn’t gone back down to my studio to do some online learning…

If I hadn’t paid attention…

I would have missed this:

show upOther views of yesterday’s work (some color, some B&W)…




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My studio this morning

And some more still life photos:



_39A3285Remember – Show up — Pay attention!

May you walk in beauty.

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