Open Mind, Open Eyes: Rediscovering Beauty In The Overlooked

From Zontiga’s ‘Open Mind, Open Eyes’ collection, this article picks out 5 books that illustrate the wonders of photographing everyday life. They demonstrate the possibility of finding beauty in the commonly overlooked, whether it is in a war-ravaged country, an abandoned village, or an under-developed city. Perhaps it is through photographing the streets that these photographers find their position in the events that are happening around them.


Lee Miller’s photographs have long been recognised as outstanding since her time with Vogue from 1941–1945. Later on, her work became a powerful representation of the belligerent World War II. Of war-ravaged cities, buildings and landscapes, but above all, her photographs portray the war-resilient people – soldiers, leaders, medics, evacuees, prisoners of war, the wounded, the villains and the heroes.


In this book, her work is shown in full range, accompanied by her brilliant despatches that gave us a walk-through in her shoes during those difficult time. During the traumatic period of human history, through her lens Miller shed light on love and hope in the event that is often shadowed by blood and anger; “I want more than anything, to be able to follow the war to the finish over here and more important, to watch the reconstruction of whatever of Europe.”





A man jumping into a saucer, a pomegranate head attached to a human body, a grandfather standing on his dog for extra lift to tend his flowers; Tavepong Pratoomwong uses a technique called ‘forced perspective’ to give the street scenes a new spin. Everything he shoots is achieved in-camera and unaltered in post-production, save for minor colour correction in Lightroom.

For Pratoomwong, a picture’s worth depends on whether or not it can make someone smile. Through the intensely imaginative lens of this Thai photographer, even the most ordinary streets reveal an absurd side brimming with stories. His uncanny ability to capture humour in everyday life is truly iconic.






Photographs in black and white portraying artists in their raw and unposed being, like a diary documenting a brief history of an abandoned village. Beijing East Village was once home to many young radical artists. Their experimentalism wasn’t always respected, and it didn’t take much time until the authorities would intervene, arrest the artists and evict them from their homes. 


In 2002, RongRong returned to the East Village after it had been evacuated, and recorded what he saw in the form of photographs and diary entry; “In this forlorn and abandoned village, where you could never imagine that anyone would care about art, it was through my camera lens that these guys —for the first time, but without any doubt— were really recognised.” In his photographs, RongRong captured the resilience of artists in a restricted environment and their emotional journey of living and creating according to their own rules.





This is a published account of a collaboration between two well known Japanese photographers. It contains images taken by each respective photographer and a written conversation where both artists shared and discussed their works—past and present—as well as the discourse of photography. 



Lightning moments such as a subconscious stare, a woman scratching her armpit, shadows of the straw hat on a face, and how the light hits a facade; Daido Moriyama captures a diaristic experience of wandering city streets. “The city has everything: comedy, tragedy, eulogy, eroticism. It is the ideal setting, the place where people’s desires are interwoven. It has remained and will always remain my natural element.”

Hajime Sawatari’s photographs are melancholic, sentimental and sensuous; the kind of pictures that inexperienced photographers attempt too often because it looks easy. He primarily focused on women, in her purest form, organic and unposed, at her home where she strips away all masks.



This book features 23 project ideas that hope to inspire and ignite discovery to find beauty in the overlooked. A product of Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas, it is aimed at aspiring photographers of all age groups or just anyone willing to express themselves creatively. It acts as a cheat sheet for those who are getting started and for those who feel uninspired. It documents photographs from young people around the world as well as professionals, demonstrating how easy it is to expand on a simple idea.

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