Real life stories – that was the last assignment for my photography course. I aimed for a project that I could shoot every day over the course of a week. Reading about some awesome projects that my classmates were planning… the only thing that came to mind was “morning coffee”. No matter my plans for the day, no matter where I am, and no matter how hurried – I always make time for a cup of coffee in the morning. Seems simple enough – I think.

cup of coffee on deck

At first, I wondered – how many ways can I shoot a cup of coffee?

As it turned out, each day was a little different from the rest and I worked with each morning as it came.
And then, as my week of “everyday coffee” came to a close, one of our group members suggested making our morning cuppa a group project for the next week. Honestly, I thought I had done all I could do with my morning coffee, and felt as though I not only needed new ideas, but seriously needed to up my game.

coffee splatter

But it wasn’t like that. Photos were posted each morning by our group members – everything from beautifully styled scenes of morning coffee to the hurried cup while getting ready for work. Some were make-believe, others, real-life. I posted all “real-life” scenes of my morning. Yeah – nothing says morning like splattered coffee. So much for my attempts at styling that “perfect” photo.

Georgie and coffee cup

We shared stories of treasured coffee cups, morning adventures, the hectic rush to get to work, cups enjoyed while relaxing on a flower-filled patio. One morning at my daughter’s, I planned a quick walk to the beach for a bit of quiet – until – I caught the pleading look of grandpup’s woeful puppy dog eyes. Needless to say, very little went as planned on that outing.

Coffee at the farmer's market

On Saturdays – a morning cup of cold brew while enjoying the sunshine and scanning the stalls at local farmer’s market. This has become a weekly habit as I enjoy exchanging greetings with our local coffee roaster.

coffee on the kayak

After dragging my weekend guest away from her cozy cup on the couch, we enjoyed a warm cup on the lake in the chilly early morning air. She thanked me for it later… silently…

coffee and breakfast ingredients

And – I made it up to her, the next day, with some blueberry pancakes and farm-fresh eggs.

It was through this group project that I learned about so much more than simply shooting a cup of morning coffee. Each photo telling a story – offering glimpses of everyday life. I looked forward to checking our group feed – the photos and stories we shared, like our own remote coffee klatsch.

Our next module in this class – which I should have started yesterday – is about “the styled shoot”. Ummmm, I’m still thinking about this one – as in, no project plans – yet… But then, as I reflect on our recent coffee adventures, I will remember to ask myself – what will my story be? Because – as I continue to find my own photography “style”, I am pretty sure it has something to do with glimpses of the everyday and the story I want to tell.

How about you – what do you enjoy shooting most?

I hope you have a wonderful week!

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Yep. The only way to find you in photography is to do. And even resistant projects have ways of letting the true you shine through. I had no plan to shoot my art this week, and I have no idea if I will do any more. Fin is here today because he isn’t feeling good, and Atticus is Atticus, always a pest. So probably no photos today. I guess we will see…

    I try to think always of the story. How can I tell the story of these pieces and how I would interact with them. It’s not my favorite, but I am sure I will walk away from this week with new insights and thoughts that may never come to fruition…but then again, it may just take a week, or a month, or a year before they do, and that’s okay too.

  2. León

    Like you, I loved seeing the glimpses into daily lives revealed through the coffee cup stories. I have yet to pull together my “finished” Module 2 Real Life assignment, but hope to do that today. As for the next one…styled still life is not my style, but it always teaches me something. Ideas are starting to percolate!

  3. Jeevan

    Looks your everyday activities took turn and interesting by taking more than a cup of coffee – photography – and I see a lot in your photos rather mere morning cups! Keep up your group activities and it seems inspiring and I really like your style of photography. All the best

  4. Barb

    Funny because I read your post as I was having a cup of coffee in town. I like the story behind the photos, and I interpret the story even without the words. That’s what I like about photography – the story that is told and the story that is extrapolated from the photo. I’m really not much interested in styled photos maybe because I feel the manipulation (and perfection?) interfere with the immediacy of the story. I guess I think of “styled” as meaning “still life.” That said, I do always edit, so I’m changing what the camera takes to what I want the story to tell… Anyway, Karen, I’m enjoying your photographic journey.

  5. Cathy Hubmann

    Karen, your morning series has been wonderful! I love that you’ve included yourself and grandpup. That makes the story behind your mornings more real. I like your approach to tell the stories of your mornings! I didn’t participate in this project, last week was not such a good week, busy and stressed! I did take the time each day to enjoy everyone’s morning/evening cuppa!

  6. Debbie

    your cups of coffee turned out very nice and i might add that you have some pretty amazing coffee mugs!! this is an online class?? or a class you physically attend?? i guess my favorite thing to photograph is nature, birds, butterflies…any kind of animal, yep, that’s my favorite!! i like your style, light, soft, unpredictable. my picture taking is much more predictable!!!

    1. Karen Lakis

      Thanks, Debbie! The class is online, taught by Kim Klassen.

  7. Carola Bartz

    Those are lovely shots and I do like the different approaches you took. Coffee splatters would be in many of my photos, too! You have beautiful mugs with all those different shapes and designs. Your images certainly tell a story. I wonder what you will do with the “styled shoot” – that’s a completely different approach, but very interesting.
    Is that a Leuchtturm1917 journal sitting on your table?

    1. Karen Lakis

      Good eye, Carola! I love those journals – I usually buy a new one for each year, mostly for writing goals, keeping notes of events in the area, photography projects I’d like to pursue… pretty much anything and everything.

  8. Beatrice P. Boyd

    Karen, I really liked seeing your approach to the assigned topic. You showed everyday life in a unique way and, like you, I also enjoy a morning cup of coffee. Now I will “see” it differently, but most of our mugs are similar in that they are red colors, so not much variation there. After reading about a blog comment you men mentioning photographer David duChemin, I found his Within the Frame book in our local library and will be going through it. I have also decided to spend time in the library looked at the large “coffee table” books of photographic images by photographers I have heard of and those I would like to know more about. As for what I enjoy shooting most, it would be everyday scenes and especially those that have some form of humor.

  9. Lissa Mayer

    Sometimes the photos that tell the most about us, are the ones of the everyday moments. I’ve always loved pictures of a morning coffee mug, set amongst the flurry of the morning routine. Nice series, Karen.

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