Life by Selena Photography
Montreal portrait & wedding photographer


The official blog of Montreal portrait and wedding photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle. Explore her signature photojournalistic style and stay up to date on her latest wedding and portrait photography projects here.

Blog 79 : Everyday Objects

Selena (Life by Selena Photography) Creative Potential 6-14.jpg

Motivated by a desire to encourage people in my community in their journey as photographers, I've created a new digital community and photo club called the "Creative Potential Photo Club". In this photographic blog post I share the contributions from our sixth assignment.

Summer: a season of chaos. It is without a doubt a time of year where I find the weather to be most agreeable; bring on the sun and the 35C days. But this year I've come to articulate this season as a destabilizing time. I'm out of the city. My friends are out of the city. Any sense of community or routine is broken apart and left spinning in a totally unsustainable way. For the first time in a long while, I must admit that I'm looking forward to fall. As we prepare for shorter days, this month’s photo club assignment was a meditative one.

1. Over the next few weeks, sink into the moments you spend in your regular space. Be deliberate as you take the time to notice everyday objects that you're surrounded by. Pick an object that you normally don't notice, something that you see all the time but don't give much thought to.
2. Study this object carefully, noticing its unique qualities that you've never taken the time to notice before, for example, its shape, colour, or the way it feels.
3. Think of a way to photograph the object in a way that will make this common object new to you. Consider changing the way you normally view the object to highlight its beauty, for example, by moving it to a new environment, changing its colour, or photographing it in a unique way. 
4. Write a short text describing your time meditating on the object, what you learned about photography, the object, and yourself through the assignment.


I'm now reading a book, Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy, that I read when I was 13 years old. Back then I didn't have too much thought about philosophy or humanity, but as I was reading it again as a grown up, this book has shed a new light on my inner and outer world lately. While going through chapters, I began to wonder where it all began that people started thinking one can rule over another when no one in the world truly have a clue who they are and why they are.

I noticed two chess pieces, a queen and a king. I bought them from a tiny antique shop a few months ago when I took a trip to Elora, ON. I haven't been able to figure out where to put them, and I almost forgot they have been waiting for me to make a move for awhile now sitting on top of the mantle in my room. 

They are made of wood, and they are about 3-inch tall. I placed them by the edge of the lighting fixture on the wall, and played with different angles and shadows. All of a sudden, the 3-inch-tall chess pieces came to life, and they appear the most solemn and dignified monarch as if they are giving a speech to the crowd at a balcony. 

Camera: iPhone 6 plus

Jihyun (Life by Selena Photography) Creative Potential 6-1.jpg


The object I chose for this assignment is a wooden sculpture of a lizard I brought back home from Cuba about 9 years ago. I did not truly give a meaning to the object until I was given the assignment and I'm glad I took the time to ponder into the reasons I kept it all along. The object dates back to the first trip abroad I did without my parents. I could say it was one of the first time I truly felt free.

The wooden lizard itself is not a state of the art sculpture, but I guess it's one of the many trinkets I leave on display in my library, reminding me of moments I treasure in the past.

Speaking of the past, I had an unusual lot of challenges in my life this year. All theses obstacles made me think a lot about how I had changed over the years and what I still have to work on as I strive to become a better person.  

In the context of this assignment, this wooden lizard made me think of going through changes and the feeling of freedom after successfully crawling through our fears and facing our inner demons. In other words, finding what keeps us going (life / green leave) when everything around us seems to want to drag us down (death / dead leaves). 

Thus came the picture I tried to paint with this photograph.

Camera: Huawei P20's 40 MP RGB camera

Mikael (Life by Selena Photography) Creative Potential 6-1.jpg


A major part of why I noticed that the wick looked so plant-like was from the deep procrastination of an assignment being due and no inspiration to start it. Instead, I found my creative assignment project and quickly got to work using my phone’s camera and a 15$ fish eye cell phone camera lens for the last photo. The whole time I was thinking about how the focus on candles is the light they provide so I wanted to change the focus.

Camera: Samsung Xcover 4
Contact: Instagram

Rianna (Life by Selena Photography) Creative Potential 6-4.jpg


Photography has always showed me that there is beauty everywhere if you take some time to pause and look - hence this gross sponge, which reminded me of the map of dark matter distribution in the universe that was published a while ago. Over the past year I've been editing my film Wrought, which is about our relationship with decay. It's made me think a lot about how the patterns in nature repeat themselves at different scales, and what that implies about our relationship to everything else. We are the universe, and sponges are too!

Camera: Canon CanoScan 8800f
Contact: Instagram

Joel (Life by Selena Photography) Creative Potential 6-1.jpg


At the ripe old age of 17, my 86-year-old family friend called me a tea grannie. A recent lover took to the habit of calling me “abuelita”, an affectionate Spanish word for grannie. The nickname remains. So I embrace it. Every morning I wake up to a big warm cup of english breakfast tea. It soothes me, a consolation for having to get out of my safe warm bed and face the world. As I make my strong cup of builders tea, I’m mesmerized by the curling tendrils of milk flowing through the layers.

Camera: Canon 5diii, 85mm lens, extension tube
Contact: Instagram, Website

Selena (Life by Selena Photography) Creative Potential 6-1.jpg


I have two small apple trees adjacent to the street. They both produce edible and sweet apples that no one seems to want to want. Underneath the apple trees are piles of recently fallen and currently rotting apples, ignored year after year by my home's 12 inhabitants, and never given much thought.  

I decided to break out my favorite camera tool, extension tubes, and try and capture a sense of that rot. I failed. Instead I was interrupted by swarms of buzzing and aggressive yellow jackets, creatures born from hell and likely evolved with the sole purpose of causing pain to all other living creatures. So far from the poetic collage I hoped to make out of rotting and semi-rotten apples, I was given a second look at this not-bee, and it's beautiful.

Apologies to the neighbourhood for helping feed this swarm.

Camera: Nikon d850, 50mm lens & a lot of stacked extension tubes.

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A painted exterior covers the surface area of the cup up to the perfect point along the circumference of the rim beyond which a white space—a blank canvas—allows the visual characteristics inherent in the liquid to be nakedly expressed. The bulk of the coffee isn’t as easily sloshed around as expected, but what appears to me to be the liquid on the bottom pours out a millimetre further than the rest. The inner walls of the cup are lined with a unique and unrepeatable splatter pattern that provokes me to imagine a bedroom wall after the scene of a bloody murder.

Camera: iPhone 8

Here’s the assignment from last month’s Creative Potential Photo Club. Each month I send out new photography assignments by email. If you want to join the Creative Potential Photo Club, please send me a message through my contact page or an email at lifebyselena[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll add you to the list! After the submissions are compiled, I'll post the images online with the goal of fostering the digital community. This is a photo project of Montreal portrait photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle of Life by Selena Photography.