Finding Your Voice: Day 4. Texture.

Welcome to Day 4 in this series that I’m calling: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice”


Today we feel Textures.
G’head… touch ’em, feel ’em, contemplate which kinds give you the shivers.

My favorite texture is_____.

Textures stimulate our senses. They can be fun to touch, wear, surround ourselves with. They’re all over the place. Foods have textures… some make you want to savor it forever, some make you spit it out immediately. You love wearing certain textures; others make your skin crawl.

Here’s a page of Google image search results for textures in nature. You could probably spend hours searching for textures in fabrics, in architecture, in animals, in humans, you name it! And you may want to do that, to more thoroughly sink into the sheer art on display throughout the world of the texturarium.

But with so much texture out there… choices must be made! Weaving them into your photographic work can make it feel even more rich and sumptuous… or messy as heck. But like always, you have to decide what you love most about textures – then make that work for you. So here we go… as always, just see what you feel, what thoughts and ideas come to mind.

Applied Textures

I bet when I first mention “Textures”, many of your thought of it as something applied to a photograph, like the image below. Since that’s a common thought, let’s start there.

You might love textured works; the old world charm of a painting, or the grungy treatment of an Urbex (Urban Exploration) shot. These kinds of textures can be subtle and barely-there… or they can be the driver of the whole piece, with the image itself sitting behind the treatment of it.

It’s all valid, all researchable and all boils down to how it makes you feel. Does it light you up? Make you want to play and get your hands dirty? Or is it just a distraction to the vision you want to present? Good know, either way.

This one’s from Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga, CA

Years Pass, the Humble Remains

Here are a couple more, applied in combination with whimsy and abstraction:

The Yard Of Whimsy

PS: Printing a photograph ONTO textured material can the trick too. I’ve seen images printed on wood, metal, different fabrics… and each embed their unique textureprint right into the image.

Tickled Pinker

Texture As The Subject

Maybe you’re in Italy and you simply fall in love with a wall. The textures, the colors, the history contained within it just makes your heart leap with joy! But you don’t want ONLY the wall in your photo, you want to contrast it with something living, to give it perspective. Luckily, a wisteria bush is looking lovely that day and makes your shot.

Is this you? Then save some time on your travels to find these little moments. They define the feeling of your visit in interesting and unique ways. See how that feels to you…

Wisps of the Past

Overall Texture: Historic

Do you love being surrounded by texture? Or does that overwhelm you? Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks… how do YOU respond to lots and lots of texture around you?

In this one, I loved it – and was struck by all the angles, textures, colors and hands that had put this place together. I did plenty of closer-up shots… but wanted one where I felt surrounded by them, with the contrast of the blue sky and clouds (that gold and blue combo is Complementary, BTW. More on that in an upcoming post.).

Old, historic cities have a TON of texture. So if you have a passion for that feel, maybe you plan a trip somewhere near or far for the up-close-and-personal experience. San Gimignano, Italy.

The Courtyard of San Gimignano

When they’re varied AND wet – textures turn into a whole other kind of awesome. Sometimes they look richer, more mysterious and interesting in the rain. If this look and feel curls your toes and makes you squeal with delight (even silently), then plan on getting wet!

The perk about shooting in the rain: you don’t have so many tourists to worry about. That seems to be a universal truth! Mont-St Michel, France.

The Leap

Of course, black and white gives texture an even stronger voice:


Texture in Nature

Textures in nature are so beautifully represented by the great masters in art. Monet was one who loved it so much he planted an entire artscape, just so he’d didn’t have to travel far and wide for it. This is part of it:  Giverny, France.

BTW: here’s a Google image search for Monet’s paintings of this garden. I was standing on the arched bridge you see in several. 😉

Monet's Garden

Perhaps you prefer your textures in an intimate setting. I love this because of the world-with-worlds feeling. You see oceans of barley fields in Normandy, France – and they’re gorgeous. But they open up an entirely new naturescape when viewed up close.

I love macro shots as much as the big, open landscapes. And this bustling close-up made my day. (PS: I didn’t see the spider till it was on my computer!) The bigger question: does it make you want to do something like it? If so, chances are you should put a check mark by “textures in macro format”)

Grains & Spider

Textures work well in black and white too. Especially when they form interesting patterns. Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Courage Over Time

And when you juxtapose natural textures and lines with man-made ones, they can help tell a story all their own. Truckee, CA.

Trapped In Time

As always, take some time feeling into textures. And take it beyond “I like” or “I don’t like”. Nubby, handmade sweaters can feel warm, sumptuous, delicious, cozy, high-end (depending on how their made). The right amount of texture in food tends to make it more appetizing. A flannel-y texture feels like comfort. Old barn wood has a texture that tells a story of its own.

We have visceral responses to textures – all of which we can draw upon and use in our work to make it more “Us,” if we choose them mindfully.  Or more importantly… more YOU.

Miss a day? No worries… they’re all right here:

Finding Your Voice, Part 1: My favorite way to feel.
Finding Your Voice, Part 2: My favorite time of day.
Finding Your Voice, Part 3: My favorite light.
Finding Your Voice, Part 4: My favorite texture.
Finding Your Voice, Part 5: My favorite element.
Finding Your Voice, Part 6: My favorite color.
Finding Your Voice, Part 7: My favorite movement.
Finding Your Voice, Part 8: My favorite shapes & patterns.
Finding Your Voice, Part 9: My favorite view.
Finding Your Voice, Part 10: My story.