Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I'm working my way through Kim Klassen's Start to Finish class. The lesson this week is about "the spark," that sweet invitation that calls us to create. It might be a picture or article from a magazine, a walk in the park, a found treasure in a local thrift shop, a good book, or the packaging of a favorite product.

Kim recognizes the value of  the spark.

One of my favourite things about ‘the spark’…..the end result is most often…. quite different from the original inspiration…… It’s fun to see where it began…and how it comes together in the end.

The spark is just the beginning…. 

The focus of the S2F class is learning to take and make pretty pictures, and props are a part of the process.Tying in nicely with Kim's teaching on still life, I recently came across a great article in Where Women Create – Prop Talk:  The Storytelling of Staging, by Elizabeth Maxson. I'm no stranger to Elizabeth's work.  As a quilter, I fell in love with the book, Quilts from the House of Tula Pink.  Really, you have to see the beautiful photography in this book where quilts are not simply stacked, spread across a bed, or hung on a line. The book features quilts in some of the most unexpected and perfectly imperfect settings.  The staging is thoughtful and unique.  Visit Craft Buds to meet Elizabeth and read about her creative process. 

A few notes from Elizabeth's perspective -

How we use our props and what we choose for props allows us to stamp our unique style in every single image we shoot.

For me, just about everything is a prop. It can be anything from a piece of furniture to a button, a scrap of paper on the floor, a water droplet, wind, nature found on location, a person in the background, a torn fabric blowing in the breeze, sunlight or lack of it, and even negative space. . . Many times the props themselves are the focus, and sometimes they are used to simply highlight the main subject.

I think of props as anything I can use in the moment to manipulate my photograph to convey a meaning, message, feeling, or style that I am trying to express or create.

I've discovered that the absence of props has a wonderful quality of its own . . . just about every photo I take has something purposely missing yet in plain sight, be it dust, a stone, or a torn piece of paper that looks as though it's been there for years. . . perhaps an old wall vent in the background peeking around the subject. . . Lack of props doesn't always mean stark, modern, or cold.

Props are just things around us that we use to tell a story – characters playing the roles that we assign. Photographers type out their stories with the clicking of their camera like keystrokes on a keyboard, typing out words. . . one image at a time.

And so, I went hunting for inspiration.  I found a simple but profound image from Gentl and Hyers Photography, my spark.


With my inspiration photo in hand, I commenced gathering my props. The morning was foggy and gray, seemingly perfect for this photo shoot.The goal would be a picture marked by simplicity, sculpture-like twigs in a clean bottle vase, the seat of a stool, an uncluttered background where texture could be added (Kim's greyday).

My version of the inspiration picture. . .

still life with twigs

My takeaway lesson, a quote from Elizabeth Maxson -

The key is not to give up too soon: keep playing and clicking until you see something that speaks to you.

I'm linking up with Kim Klassen for Texture Tuesday. I'm on vacation this week, so please forgive me if I don't have a chance to visit and comment on the many favorite blogs of  Texture Tuesday. But I scheduled this post, with my spark to share, while I'm away.  See you next week!


  1. I love your still life and found the quotes in your post really interesting. I hope you have a great time away!

  2. Lovely piece and fits you so well. Have a great vacation! Isn't scheduling posts great!

  3. yes, it is great when you get that spark - your twigs are great! enjoy your vacation - time away always helps with the spark too...

  4. well...for a start:
    I like your twig bouquet much better. The sweeping lines are so much more agreeale that the ones that cross in the first picture.
    And the stool in the top one is too mucky and almost drowns into the background.
    You got the balance just right.
    Well done.

  5. Well Donna this is a lesson post in itself, so well thought out and written as always from you. Love your spark and you did it so well. Great post hope you are having a great time away.

  6. There's something about twigs in a vase. The opportunity to appreciate form and texture. Have a safe & pleasant journey!

  7. That is a wonderful edit so perfect hope you have a great time away.

  8. Magnificent post, Donna. I love the edit in its simplicity.

  9. I love your takeaway lesson Donna, it's SO apt for me this week ! Thank you :) I love your version of the spark photo !
    Have a wonderful vacation ! xo

  10. Wonderful post and lovely images. Enjoy your vacation!

  11. Such lovely images, Donna! Have a lovely time on holiday. :))

  12. Love the simplicity! The quote is wonderful, also.

  13. Your version of the inspiration picture is very beautiful. I love the blue of the stool. Your arrangement is wonderful!

  14. Beautiful. Love your trailer.

  15. You created your own special masterpiece there! Hope you have a delightful vacation.

  16. Something you wrote 'perhaps an old wall vent' reminded me of a kitchen shot I made the other day. Thanks. Love your camper. Sometimes I wish I was single. My life would be so different.

  17. Lovely pictures and texture work.

  18. I love your image - just my kind of still life. I love the stark branches, the stool ... the tones ... pure yumminess. You have sparked an idea in me ... you are so inspirational, Donna and thank you for sharing your process! Blessings to you.

  19. I love your take on the inspiration/spark image. Very well done! Mine never look anything like what I found as a spark! Lovely post Donna!


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