I’ve had these shells in my office for almost a year. For whatever reason, I just wasn’t feeling inspired to photograph them. Several months ago, I did pull them out and played with backgrounds, but that was it. I had other ideas in my head, and finally decided to act on them!

Be open to using whatever you can find or have

One of the ideas I had was to take the smaller shells — some are quite tiny — and put them in water with sand on or in a blue pie plate I have. I figured the blue would help emulate the feeling of water and beach.

First, I set this up on my kitchen table in a small lightbox. I tried using the pie plate upside down and then I flipped it and put the shells in it.

After taking a few photos with the pie plate, I grabbed a glass from the cupboard and added water to it. Then I shot from directly overhead to see what it would look like.

When you’re setting up shots like this, remember to just play and experiment. You really don’t know until you try something what works and what doesn’t. During this session, I also grabbed wooden spoons, an art glass piece I have and then I went outside.

Change your perspective

One of the easiest ways to create different images is to change your perspective. During my time with the shells I shot from directly above, at eye level and also slightly at an angle. Each perspective completely changed what shows up in the viewfinder.

When I took the shells outside and placed them on my patio table I knew I’d be able to get reflections in the wavy glass because I love using my patio table to take photos on it. It had actually rained a bit, so the wet surface made it even better. For fun, I dumped more water on it. They’re shells, after all, so it represents their natural habitat of water and sand!

Always remember to have fun

If what you’re doing becomes difficult, tedious or you find yourself getting bored and impatient, then stop. Learn lessons from what you’ve done, the images you have and apply them the next time you get the urge to be creative.

Lesson learned for me this time (and to be honest almost every time I get my macro lens out), is to leave the camera on the tripod. I often get too antsy and feel too restricted with a tripod. I want to try different angles but can’t, so I take the camera off the tripod and set my settings to better handle being handheld. But then I’m disappointed with the outcome! Patience is a huge virtue when photographing macro images — which is not something I’m good at, so a good majority of my images are unusable. Some day I’ll learn!