Trash To Treasure: finding beauty everywhere

by Lisa Benemelis

Inspiration comes in many forms, even garbage.

Have you exhausted all the shooting possibilities in and around your home?

Are you feeling uninspired? Are you looking to push yourself creatively?

I realize that many people will wince or roll their eyes when I recommend shooting garbage.  I know I probably would have prior to capturing “garbage” quite accidentally.  It forced me to think about art in a whole new way – and it also has been a very enjoyable experience!

Inspiration from this unlikely source began when my teenagers tossed their dirty dishes into the sink rather than placing them in the dishwasher.   As I gave them the mom stare to take care of their dishes, I noticed how the light was streaming in and onto the dishes.  I picked up my camera and took a few frames of a fork lying in dirty sink water on a sheet pan.  This image remains one of my favorites to date.


Trash To Treasure: finding beauty everywhere photo


Trash To Treasure: finding beauty everywhere photo

Not only does this help push you creatively, but also it has become very therapeutic.  Slowing down and noticing the unsung beauty around you can expand your possibilities.

Trash To Treasure: finding beauty everywhere photo

As the tulips dropped their last petals and were ready to be thrown away, I noticed how they had settled on the table and looked as though they were free falling.


Trash To Treasure: finding beauty everywhere photo


Trash To Treasure: finding beauty everywhere photo

Have you ever noticed how “dirty” soapy dishwater has beautiful iridescent colors?

Trash To Treasure: finding beauty everywhere photo

Keep an eye open for inspiration from an unlikely source.   It will push you creatively as well as help you to see the beauty in all things.
Trash To Treasure: finding beauty everywhere photoLisa Benemelis, California
CMU Instructor, CM Mentor
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Lisa Benemelis is a natural light photographer who is inspired by finding the beauty of emotional connections in ordinary every day moments. Lisa doesn’t simply photograph the person; she photographs how they make her feel. Emotive black and white imagery holds Lisa’s heart and she also likes to experiment with low light, macro and emotive portraiture. She shoots with a Canon 5D Mark III, Lensbaby, and several prime lenses, completing her image processing in LR5. She is one of the instructors of CMU’s workshop Shooting 103: Foundations of Composition. She lives in California and likes to spend her day off driving to the ocean, hiking, reading a good book, and spending time with her family.

Read all photography tutorials by Lisa Benemelis.

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27 Responses to “Trash To Treasure: finding beauty everywhere”

  1. Addie
    Jul 14 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Great reminder, Lisa!

  2. Janny Beimers
    Jul 14 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Thanks Lisa, I have to look twice in my house to get inspired by the litle things in my house to make art.
    I special like the tulip petals!!

  3. Allison
    Jul 14 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    I have been feeling very uninspired the past few weeks, wracking my brain for new ideas with absolutely no luck. This was incredibly helpful and now I have a few ideas for new things to try!

    • Jul 14 2014 at 9:31 pm #

      Oh, I can’t wait to see your new ideas. Please be sure to share, Allison. :)

  4. Jul 14 2014 at 9:41 pm #

    Gorgeous, Lisa! So inspired by this. I love that first image! <3

  5. Kristy
    Jul 15 2014 at 9:03 am #

    What a fun and interesting read Lisa! Thanks so much for the inspiration! <3

  6. Margy B
    Jul 16 2014 at 9:35 am #

    Thank you, Lisa. Loved the free falling petals!

  7. Jul 16 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Beautiful and inspiring images, Lisa! Thank you for sharing. I keep staring at your first image and still can’t quite figure out what is going on there (how the fork appears to be standing up) which makes it all that much more fascinating!

    • Jul 18 2014 at 1:09 pm #

      Thank you, Julia. It agree. It’s interesting how your mind translates it from the before to the after image.

  8. Jul 16 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Wow! Stunning photos!

  9. staci
    Jul 18 2014 at 9:30 am #

    gorgeous images and very inspiring!!

  10. Kim
    Jul 19 2014 at 11:44 pm #


  11. Jennifer B
    Jul 20 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    I need to really work on this. I am so focused on the big picture, I miss the small details. Thanks for this!

  12. Michele Yon
    Jul 23 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    Thank you for the post. It’s something I need to work on – finding beauty in the ordinary every day things.

  13. Jana
    Jul 24 2014 at 11:03 am #

    Thanks for the simple reminder. Life has been hectic lately, may have to force some photographic therapy upon myself to slow down a bit.

    • Aug 28 2014 at 6:12 pm #

      Slowing down is a great reminder to focus not only on the big picture but also the subtle, quiet beauty around us. <3

  14. Jul 25 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    I always struggle taking everyday shots and turning them into art like this. I will be following your work more for sure for inspiration. Beautiful!

  15. Felicia Murray
    Jul 26 2014 at 12:18 am #

    This is such great inspiration to see the beauty in our everyday lives.

  16. Aug 29 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Thank you for this reminder, Lisa! You have such an amazing eye to see the potential in these scenes!

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