22 ordinary objects that turned into extraordinary art

  • macro photo by Nina Mingioni

22 ordinary objects that turned into extraordinary art

As many women, I originally turned to photography to be able to capture the lives of my kids.

As many photographers, I quickly grew frustrated with their unwillingness to cooperate while I was trying to hone my skills.

After a year of serious shooting, I realized that while I now could create great photos of my kids, photography to me was so much more. It taught me to see things I have never seen before: light wrapping around the objects, shadows encroaching on the light, and the beauty of details.

Photography taught me to live in the moment, and appreciate the art of the everyday. Seeing harmonious compositions, leading lines, light, shadows, and reflections comes with practice and definitely takes a conscious effort.

The beauty of shooting objects is that they are 100% cooperative. A dried leaf will not throw a temper tantrum. A fork will not roll its eyes. You can shoot an apple for as long as you would like and from any angle you wish without any objections. Even better is the fact that once you upload your shots and you hate them all, you get to delete them without feeling guilty because someone’s face was too cute even though the light was terrible.

Related: Trash to Treasure: finding beauty everywhere

Finding the beauty in the ordinary is a skill in itself. I am hopeful that by the time you finish viewing this blog post, you will be inspired to find the beauty in the mundane and ordinary, and appreciate the fine art aspects of the chaos around you.

I love soft side light, and will frequently use it to highlight the form of objects, and the light wraps around them.

green apple photo by Nina Mingioni

photo of a coffee mug by Nina Mingioni

Ann Tyer captured the graceful movement of pages in this image.

pages of a book flipping by Ann Tyer

Still life is fun to set up at home! Try different combinations and angles.

still life photo of lightbulb and book by Nina Mingioni

table of food by Nina Mingioni

One of my favorite activities is “seeing” the little details of the objects I use every day. The kitchen is by far my favorite place to do so. Below are my garlic press and an egg beater.

egg beater by Nina Mingioni

macro garlic press photo by Nina Mingioni

Messy kitchen? Check! I love this kitchen image Nadeen Flynn captured as she made pizza at home (gorgeous counters help!).

pizza making ingredients by Nadeen Flynn

Texture is another favorite to seek out. These freshly picked sage leaves were a must to photograph.

black and white photo of sage by Nina Mingioni

As I saw this old window, I was surprised at the juxtaposition of the soft spider web with the straight lines of the pane.

window with cobwebs by Nina Mingioni

Vironica Golden beautifully captured her morning coffee. Including a long shadow created by the morning sun surprisingly adds a feeling of time of day to this image.

coffee cup by Vironica Golden

How about prosaic parts of life…parking garages, anyone? I loved the lines and textures I saw in my work’s parking garage one afternoon.

garage photo by Nina Mingioni

On a different day, I saw beautiful light spilling into the tunnel of an underground lot.

photo of a garage by Nina Mingioni

Coming home late one rainy night, I was happy to have my camera with me to capture the mist hanging in the air. This one took some creative white balance play, but turned out to be one of my favorite images.

bare tree and rain by Nina Mingioni

Another rainy and very cold night, I paused to observe the rain drops, backlit by the headlights of my car. Luckily, I was able to shoot this one from my garage as my car stood in the driveway.

rain drops by Nina Mingioni

Late afternoon sun can be magical, adding glow to an ordinary sidewalk.

light and shadows on the sidewalk by Nina Mingioni

Other sidewalk details can also be so interesting to capture. Nadeen Flynn captured this al fresco scene – I love the clean feeling of this image!

Al fresco by Nadeen Flynn

When I saw the light sparkling on this curves of this wrought iron bench, I knew it was destined to be an out-of-focus image, with just hints of the original form.

obscure bench photo by Nina Mingioni

Reflections are my other favorite thing to seek out, especially as they occur “naturally.” I almost walked by this puddle, but was glad to return. The color palette was the perfect match for how I felt that afternoon.

puddle with city building reflected by Nina Mingioni

Lisa Benemelis beautifully photographed these tulip petals. The reflection here, too, really adds to the image.

tulips by Lisa Benemelis

Finally, photographing just shadows is always a treat. It is a very unusual way to capture a common object.

shadow of a leaf by Nina Mingioni

Inspired yet? So give your kids a break, open your eyes and live in the moment, soaking it all in. Who knows what amazing things you will find?


About the Author:

Nina is a hobbyist photographer who lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She loves many genres, including street, urban, macro, and nature photography, and, of course, capturing the details in lives of her two boys. She shoots mostly prime lenses, but never leaves her house without one of her Lensbaby lenses. In imagery, she is drawn to lines, patterns, details, textures, and light – and capturing the geometry, order, and beauty these elements bring into the chaos of life. Visit Nina Mingioni online.


  1. Ann Apr 20 2015 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Fantastic post, Nina! Thank you for including my image. <3

  2. MargyB Apr 20 2015 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Love this post. I’m always shooting everyday objects. I see beauty everywhere.

  3. Nadeen Apr 20 2015 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Loved reading this and seeing all the beautiful images.

  4. Cramer Imaging Apr 20 2015 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    This article makes an excellent point. We can make something extraordinary out of normal everyday objects with a different view or approach. Thanks for sharing. Some of those are inspiring.

  5. Carrie Apr 20 2015 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    Nina, your work is always so inspiring!

  6. Emily Apr 21 2015 at 9:13 am - Reply

    Very inspiring post Nina! Beautiful images! Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Nicole Apr 21 2015 at 9:48 am - Reply

    These are beautiful and so inspiring!

  8. Caroline Jensen Apr 21 2015 at 10:55 am - Reply

    So stunning, Nina!!

  9. Annmarie Kopey Apr 22 2015 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Awesome Nina as always. I really enjoyed this.

  10. AnnaVanDemark Apr 22 2015 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    Love how you’ve highlighted the extraordinary within the ordinary, Nina! That’s my favorite thing to do, too 🙂

  11. Anastasia May 03 2015 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your post! so inspirational.
    I love photography because you just never stop to learn.

  12. Ebony May 09 2015 at 10:39 am - Reply

    I am in love with your parking garage image! What a fantastically creative post. Thank you!

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