I love it when photographers get extra creative with documenting daily life and the most mundane things out of it. It can be challenging to single out something interesting to capture in everyday things. It’s easy to fall into the trap of boredom in familiarity when you’re shooting around your city.
However, there are photographers like Weimar, Germany-based Lucas Zimmermann who inspire us to rethink our approaches to the craft and maybe even simplify it. His two-part night photography series, “Traffic Lights,” is a perfect example.
Foggy nights and multicolor lights
I’m sure that traffic lights are the last things that come to mind when you’re out on a photowalk at night. However, when you’re faced with a moody, mesmerizing scene as Zimmermann was, you just have to let your creativity take over and start shooting.
“The possibility that light is ‘visible’ in fog fascinates me. The unknown hue of blueish light is like the fog hidden for the human eye, but photography shows us things we otherwise overlook, such as a simple traffic light on the street,” he said in his project description.
In both the first and second installments of the series, he first took photos of the traffic lights in different colors then combined them in a single photo. The result is a striking example of minimalism, color play and out of the box thinking for night photography.
Seeing something extraordinary in the ordinary
On a quick side note, I first encountered Zimmerann’s “Traffic Lights” in a video by London photographer Jamie Windsor. He showed it as an example of how creating something new expands our knowledge of what photography can be. That’s exactly what this body of work does. It invites us to come up with different approaches and styles to see — and ultimately show — the world around us.
I am particularly inspired at how Zimmermann was able to see something extraordinary in the ordinary to create this series. It shows us that it’s possible to see our surroundings without the veil of familiarity.
Still, I also know that not all of us have access to the fateful combination of colorful lights, fog and completely empty roads. Not all of us can easily find our own version of traffic lights in our locations. Even if we do come across something similar, what we end up creating may not have the same ingenious and authentic results as Zimmermann’s impressive night photography.
What I do get from this body work is to just show up and shoot wherever we can, day and night and with an open mind. Who knows when the fateful conditions come and the genius strikes for us to capture our own take on the extraordinary?
All photos by Lucas Zimmermann. Used with Creative Commons permission.