Weekly Photo Challenge – Beginning

 “Living is beginning, always, every moment.”

Cesare Pavese

One of my favorite things about photography is the way it trains your eye to see the little things – the everyday, ordinary “stuff” that often goes unnoticed. As we move into 2014, Cheri has asked us to focus on Beginning. So perhaps 2014 should be a year for beginning to look more closely at the smaller wonders of the world around us. Some of those little miscellanies are among my favorite captures from our 2013 trip to China.  So why not? Let’s begin this year’s Travels and Trifles with a post featuring those very incidentals.



“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”

Meister Eckhart

I loved the way these large sunflower heads were so perfectly placed next to the basket of seeds.  The display was part of a rudimentary shop in Ping Yao, where clearly the customers can be assured the seeds are fresh.



“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”


A simple white tee shirt, hung on a makeshift clothesline, casts its shadow on the wall behind.  Do you wonder who wore it, who washed it, or where it will go once it’s dry and ready?



“The artist is always beginning.”

Ezra Pound

Above, several tools of the trade stand ready to serve.  I particularly liked the many shades of earth tone in the assembly, and the artistic arrangement which I assume happened by chance.  The shiny, worn surface of the anvil’s head tells us it’s seen lots of use over time.  For what, when, and by whom?



“He who chooses the beginning of the road chooses the place it leads to.”

Harry Emerson Fosdick

The obvious pride of this man who had brought his chickens to market caught my eye.  He, like most of the Chinese people we encountered, was more than willing to have his photo taken. He’d have preferred, I think, to sell me a chicken but that wasn’t happening!



“There are only 2 mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not beginning.”


At the same market, fish hung by colorful red ribbons stared glassy-eyed and open-mouthed at passersby.  Somehow they struck me as more appropriate for my lens than my table.



“He has the deed half done who has made a beginning.”


We observed many Chinese men focused intently on board games like the one above. This is Xiangqi, the Chinese version of chess. Unlike pieces in the US, the tokens are round and typically wooden. They include Chinese characters as identification rather than being specifically shaped, and the game is played on the lines of the board rather than in its spaces.



“There is no end, there is no beginning. There is only the passion of life.”

Frederico Fellini

Birds in China serve as symbols of many things, including freedom, happiness, love and blessings from heaven. One of our more curious stops was at Hong Kong’s Yuen Po Bird Garden, where older Chinese men bring their pet birds for a “walk” much as Americans walk their dogs.  It is an important area for senior socializing, with bird singing competitions alongside card and board games. Birds, birdcages, birdseed, bags of live insects and other items are sold as well, feeding birds and birders alike.



“Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.”

George Santayana

The graphics of this simple section of wall appealed to me, with nothing but textures, contrasting tones, and a few lines leading out of the shot. It reminded me of a modern art painting such as might have been done by Mondrian or Bennett Newman in their day.



“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”


Speaking of paintings, couldn’t this composition easily hang on the walls of a New York apartment or a Connecticut country house?  The shapes and placement of the elements, especially the rudimentary faucet, called out to me in their timelessness.



“Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life.”

John Ruskin

Finally, a stalk of bamboo – carved by an unknown visitor with an indecipherable (at least to me) message.  Who left it, for whom, and what does it say?  To me, it ‘s symbolic of the captures in this post – little messages sent from the subjects to my eyes, mind, lens, and finally post; the better to communicate with you, the reader.  Which, if any, drew you in, and why?  Food for thought as we all search for the most positive ways to implement this year’s new beginning.

132 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge – Beginning

  1. Love the shot of the man with the chicken…you capture such a genuine smile. A perfect way to begin the New Year with a tribute to beginnings, and as my grandfather always said, ‘the beginning is a perfect place to start…although not always the easiest.’ Best to you in ’14 Tina, and look forward to further inspiration from your blog.

    • Hi Kelly – thanks for dropping in! Appreciate your visit and lovely comment – and a wonderful new year to you too! Looking forward to reading about your travel adventures as well!!

  2. what lovely beginnings, Tina. i find that having a camera in hand trains the eye to notice the obscure and insignificant. or perhaps it is just that the camera is a vehicle allowing one to zoom in on those details, allowing them to shine. great eye, and thank you for sharing! i especially liked that click of the bamboo, and the anvil and hammer.

    • Many thanks Kris – glad you chose the bamboo, I was feeling it needed some attention and I loved it too! I like your comment about the camera as vehicle for zooming in – well said! Have a wonderful, creative 2014!

  3. I liked them all but particuliarly the pleasantness of Sunflowers and Seeds, the brassy earthiness of Anvil and Hammer, the antiquity of Window Scene, but the rustique of Basic Shower was perhaps my favorite if I was forced to select only one. Well done! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning (3: it is a Baby!) | What's (in) the picture?

    • Thanks Sue – “beginning” quotes are everywhere – some of the other weekly challenges? Not so much!! Anyway, thanks for your visit and comment! Happy New Year to you.

  5. Really beautiful slideshow – with descriptions and then those quotes! However, it was a bit much to take in at one time and so I will be back to pour over this some more.
    In the meantime, 2 comments:
    1. regarding the white shirt, I like the questions you presented – but I can’t help wonder if the hanger or clothes pins are going to leave stains on the shirt (JK! – even though the clothes pin on the left looks ummm..) – also like how the pole holding the hanger is bamboo and rope – you are so right – photography allows us to see that “ordinary “stuff” that often goes unnoticed” –

    2. Also loved the sunflowers photo- for what you mentioned – but also our family enjoys salted sunflower seeds on road trips and at certain sport events – and so seeing those raw, ready to harvest seeds (and fresh ones on the basket) well it was the “beginning” of a task snack…

  6. I’m really struck by the photo of the farmer with his chickens. He has put on his best coat to come to market. He has no laces for his shoes. I see him as a man who finds joy and happiness in his work. He does seem proud of his chickens, and he should be. I’d like to know that man. Thanks for another great essay. Wishing for you all the best in 2014!

    • What an interesting observation Bill, I must admit I did not see the missing shoelaces! I actually went over to shoot the chickens behind the wire cages but he was so proud to see that I thought they were beautiful he decided to pose with them. I just loved his enthusiasm and the twinkle in his eyes! Thanks for stopping by and a Happy New Year to you too!

    • A fun memory, happy to have reminded you!! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. Seems the anvil and hammer shot has several votes 🙂 We never know what will appeal to whom, do we?@!

  7. Pingback: The Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning « blogagaini

  8. Wow! Awesome! Sometimes you hear the saying that you can’t see the forest for the trees….but sometimes you just don’t need to see the whole forest because the trees have so much to say! Micro photography is so expressive. If you only saw the big picture, you would miss so much. But not you, Tina, you see it. SQ

    • Sure, galavanting around Cambodia and everything LOL!!! I’d be there instead of here if I could 🙂 Hope your new year is everything you and your charming partner hope it will be CTB!

      • Thanks Tina 🙂 Well I tried to get the ‘money shot’ in Cambodia, but tricky with the crowds. We did early mornings, but didn’t matter some places still were very crowded. The one place with full of tour groups who resorted to pushing to be first to get a shot of an amazing tree growing over the wall of one of the temples… that is when I took my cue to leave!
        I know lighting is the most important and photos I have seen of the temples always have amazing light, but we missed it with cooler temps and dull days. I guess it is only a reason to go back someday 😉
        I did get one photo I was really happy with and I posted it in my Angkor Wat post. You will have to give me some fedback and lessons 😉

  9. I’m with you on the ordinary, everyday things shots…I think it’s more fun to create an interesting shot from what appears to be anything but interesting. Like them all especially the board game with the lines and shapes, the shower, and the fish shot and I think I’d pass on having them for dinner as well…nice post Tina.

    • Thanks Andy 🙂 The board game is also one of my favorites. I just loved its graphics and muted colors. As for the fish, I have a hard time eating anything that’s looking at me!
      Happy New Year to you!

    • Thanks so much Ron – always enjoy making the book to capture the memories while they’re fresh. Somehow they become the things that resonate years later 🙂 Appreciate your visit and lovely compliment.

  10. I love see the small, often unnoticed things which so often has a beauty all their own. Simplicity can be so beautiful, in people as well as things. I like all the photos but I think my favorite is the one of the sunflowers. You always have wonderful quotes, too, something I always enjoy.

    What’s a blurb book? Have to check around your site to see.


    • Thanks so much Janet – I do have an affinity for the little things which can be so beautiful in their simplicity. As for Blurb, it’s a software package for creating beautiful books. I always do one for our major trips and they become great reminders as the years go by. I highly recommend them if you want to create a book. If you click on the link in my post the China book is a good example of what you can do. Appreciate your stopping by and your lovely comment.

  11. Hi Tina, Another great post. I love you Blurb book also. I have visited China three times over the years and the images in your book and in this post capture the essence of my memories of those visits. A wonderful effort that inspires me to attempt another project to create a Blurb book that covers various aspects of our own travels (I did one several years ago as a present to my wife). Look forward to more of your work in 2014. Chris G (NZ)

    • Hi Chris, GREAT to hear from you! How was your long journey this summer?! Glad you enjoyed the post and the book. Blurb’s tools have really come a long way and I’m sure your summer gave you tons of great shots that would make a wonderful book. I find my strongest memories of each of our trips are the ones I’ve included in my books. Happy new year to you!

      • Hi Tina, It has been a longer silence than I had anticipated. A much needed break. I’m almost ready to begin posting again – am trying to determine what direction I want to take with the blog. Presently working through the many photos of the trip – plenty to think about. Watch this space. Wishing you a healthy and fulfilling 2014. Chris G

  12. Super photo’s , Tina . The camera often show us what our eyes missed. And the more we take a photo the more we start to notice the things around us indeed 🙂 Have a wonderful and creative 2014! This post is a good beginning.

  13. Lovely photographs, Tina. Capturing the ‘little’ things can be a daunting task when one is constantly looking out for those ‘special’ moments. I love how you see the extraordinary in the ordinary. ‘White Tee’ is my favourite.

    • Thanks much Uday! I’d have a hard time choosing as they all feel like my babies, but if forced to choose I think I’d go with the white tee myself!! Appreciate your visit and comment.

  14. Your post is a delightful commentary on the juxtaposition of the ordinary and seemingly mundane against the dissection that brings an aesthetic quality. The beginning also is reflected in the moment that is always new–a scene that can be seen, even in its simplicity as new.

  15. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning | Stefan Praetorius Naurin

  16. Happy New Year T… Two favorites of all time… Those parrots and that wonderful sheep! As always I scroll through your photos ” marinating” on the script and the photo! Great way to start my New Year.. Sitting, observing and listening to others… Linda

    • Wow, all-time favorites!! You rock Linda – thank you so much for your encouragement and support always. All the best to you both in 2014 – most especially, here’s to your good health!!!

  17. A journey…in & of itself….thought provoking words…. beautifully written…as usual!!!
    A FEAST for the eyes (as your photos always are)….THANK YOU ..once again!!!

  18. Tina, the fish are amazing with the orange/red color standing out and the window scene does look like a stage set. Beautiful. K

  19. Pingback: There is always a new beginning | Words 'n Pics...

  20. Tina, first a Happy New Year to You! Haven’t been around in your world for a while .. haven’t been feeling that great. Love to land here … great quotes .. excellent writing .. and fantastic photos. Haven’t done a entry for this week yet – can’t get my head around it. Love that black and white with the bird cages. Funny that the Chinese connect birds with freedom and they have so many in cages. Great post again, Tina .. and the window shot is brilliant too.

    • Hi Viveka and Happy New Year to you too. Sorry to hear you’re still having problems and sincerely hope you are feeling better soon. Thanks for the visit and lovely comment. And I agree with you, the freedom vs cages struck me as a bit ironic as well! Feel better soon!

      • Thanks, for the visit … and for your kind comment. Tina, had a great day yesterday and even a bit of sunshine – and today feels to be the same.I’m hoping for the best.
        I wish a pleasant Sunday..

  21. A classic Tina Schell photo essay! Crisp detail and varied subjects, great supporting text and quotes – always a treat. I marvel at how you respond to a challenge. Personally, I would never “dare you” to do something if there was a serious wager on the line!!!!

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