Kuster’s Last Stand – ‘Ordinary To Extraordinary’

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Recently, due to a few changes in my life and not wanting my son to deal with the inner-city school system, I’ve moved back to the western suburbs of Chicago to the neighborhood where I grew up. While I’m happy for my son, I must admit I find my surroundings very clean, convenient and peaceful. The only problem is that when you add all these adjectives together they add up to only one word…BORING!

 

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘BUS STOP’ (Photograph take at school bus parking lot)

 

Although I love living in the suburbs, creatively I feel like I am drowning in a sea of just plain vanilla. It seems that all the lawns look the same, everyone drives the same type of vehicle, and I swear all the adults are carbon copies of each other, starting with their hair right down to their clothing. I truly miss the City, where you can feel the energy of people moving, it’s a tad dirty and smelly, a little dangerous and definitely culturally diverse. In the downtown area, you are constantly inspired by amazing architecture, graffiti artists, different ethnic groups expressing themselves through various art forms, riding the el train, hearing music blast from cars, and the mom and pop food stores where the lighting and decorate worn and tired looking. Now, I drive my car to big box stores like Walmart, K-Mart, Target, Costco and the super-sized grocery store where you could eat off the floors they are so clean.

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘THE REFLECTION OF A TREE’ (Photograph take in my back yard)

 

I’d love to tell you I’m shooting images for clients everyday, however, sadly, that’s not always the case. In order to keep my photographic eye sharp and my creative juices flowing, I try to shoot a few images daily with my iPhone. Although this isn’t a new concept for photographers to shoot images every day, I now really need to push myself to find inspiration in the every day mundane life of suburbia. Images just don’t “pop” out at me like they did when I was living in the city. Where I live now, I feel like a big game hunter on an African safari. As I walk through miles of the same perfectly manicured ankle high lawns, I’m constantly on the lookout for an image to capture. Stalking, waiting, looking for inspiration to strike at any moment. Where will I find you, Inspiration, and begin shooting…the coffee shop,a parking lot, the local bank, backyard,McDonald’s?????

 

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© Kevin Kuster – ‘TARGET DEAD AHEAD OR SHOPPING CART AS ART’ (Photograph taken in Target parking lot.)

 

Where, where are you, Inspiration? I know you’re all around me, I just need to look hard enough and I will find you. Suddenly, out of nowhere as I’m approaching my local Target, I see a row of ordinary shopping carts whizz past me as a store clerk crams them into the holding rack. SLAM! A perfect row of shopping carts lined up for future customers to use. Wait…look at the repetitive design the row of 15 shopping carts creates. Look at the geometrical pattern of the cart itself. Look at the unique coloring of the carts, red and black to match the store’s colors. Search for it, slowly, study it, bend down, look at them from different perspectives. Suddenly, “click, click”. There it is, I found it, Inspiration. What I had dismissed as ordinary and just plain vanilla has suddenly inspired me to create, shoot and share my next photo.

Inspiration and good subjects to photograph are always around us, we just need to have the courage to find them and the ability to create something interesting out of the ordinary. My advice for you today is to find something that you see as ordinary and mundane and make it EXTRAordinary!

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13 thoughts on “Kuster’s Last Stand – ‘Ordinary To Extraordinary’

  1. I felt the same way when I moved from Oakland to San Jose. Oakland, just like San Francisco or Berkeley is a very unique and interesting city, with tons of stuff to see, a lot of places to go, the people, the 10 min drive to SF. Now here in SJ every thing is so plain, insipid, I hate suburbs. Miss Oakland / Berkeley a lot :/

  2. Fantastic article Kev! I definitely relate, being at home with the kiddo all day inspiration often alludes me. Gotta make it happen sometimes! I love that shopping cart shot!

  3. You did it again! Not only with your amazing photography but also with your wise and experienced words. Inspiration is also a feeling I’m constantly searching for to spark creativity in my photography and in my life as well. I would love to read what you have to share about finding ones style. I know what I like to shoot but I often fall in the trap of repetition leaving me feeling less creative.
    Great column! Very honest and informative. Look forward to reading many more. Cheers!!

  4. Congrats on the new column! I was just talking to my hubby about how cool it would be to rent a place somewhere downtown for like a summer- so the kiddos can experience city living. Suburbia can get pretty mundane, thank goodness for kids who add the crazies to our days. Looking forward to reading more and learning from a harp seal rescuer and Lego artist extraordinaire.

  5. Great article, Kevin! I can relate as well, many times I get frustrated by lack of inspiration in my surroundings. Thanks for the great advice!! 🙂

  6. Enjoyed what I hope is the first of many inspirational articles. Thanks for the reminder to give everything a second, third or fourth look when feeling creatively challenged.

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