Through The Lens Thursday #7: Dull

posted in: Life, Photography, Through The Lens Thursday 63 comments

Through The Lens Thursday is a one-year photography project, where every week, my project partner, Greta of GFunkified and I, will post a picture (or pictures) we have taken based on a prompt. Our hope is that together, we can teach and learn from each other, stay accountable to our goal of improving our skills, and hopefully, be taking some gorgeous photographs.

A photography project

This week’s prompt is “Dull”.


Taken with a Canon EOS Rebel SL1, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens.
1/80, f/2.8, ISO 400

That’s my KitchenAid whip. The part where it attaches to the mixer looked dull (you know, versus shiny), and I thought it’d be fun to try out my macro lens (and it was fun).

“Dull” also got me thinking about my blog, my writing.

I feel like things have gotten dull around here. I looked back on my posts last year and realized that I have stopped pouring my heart out. I have been struggling to get my stories out, because I don’t feel like I have any stories left to tell. 

At least, not the ones I can tell. 

Do I write about how as a child and young woman, I felt unloved by my mother? Do I write about the days in college where I did stupid things just like any 19 year old would, and the near-misses I’ve had because I was young and dumb? Do I write about the struggles my oldest son is facing? Do I write about how I worry daily about my children’s future because I feel like I’m not a great mother most days (despite the sweet spots)?

I feel dull. 

(What do you think of my ‘dull’ photo? This IS a photography exercise, so I would appreciate any critique!)

Next week’s prompt: Window

For the full list of prompts, check out my Through The Lens Thursday page. If you’d like to join Greta and I, but not necessarily blog your picture, join our Flickr group, where we upload our photos, and give comments, or helpful critique on each other’s photographs.

Comment on any two posts on my blog in February, and stand a chance to win one 30-day 150×150 sidebar ad! Find out more here.

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • February 13, 2014 Katie E

    I like your dull picture – very clever. And I like that it seems like some kind of visual puzzle to me – I keep staring at it and trying to figure out exactly how it must be sitting there for that picture.

    Um, your blog is far from dull! But sadly my first thoughts about the word dull (I haven’t taken my pictures yet) were that I could take a picture of my dull face and hair, and that my blog is dull. So glad that I can view next week’s word more positively 🙂
    Katie E recently wrote…Snow Day Essentials #iPPPMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Isn’t it a little sad? That when we see a word like dull, we turn inward? Sigh.
      I hope things pick up for you just as I hope they will for me. 🙂

  • February 13, 2014 Alma

    Ha! I saw your post on my feed and said to myself… Wait! I forgot to look up what was today’s prompt word. I saw the word “dull” on your title. And I said “great, I could just take a selfie”. Glad I am not the only one feeling dull these days. I look forward to your posts, but I think everything comes in waves . Your fine, I’m fine. Here is to us and shinier days ahead 🙂
    Alma recently wrote…Valentine’s Day Instagram GiveawayMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      You’re right, it’s just a down wave for me right now. Though this week, I felt a little more inspired, and wrote a little more. 🙂
      By the way, YOU are not dull. Just look at the beauty you create every day.

  • February 13, 2014 Tricia

    Love the photo!
    I also don’t think your blog is dull but I know that feeling. :/
    Tricia recently wrote…Thirty-threeMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Aw, thanks Tricia. 🙂

  • February 13, 2014 Julia

    When I saw the picture I really wanted to know what the prompt was because i immediately knew it was the kitchen aid wisk. I would have never guessed dull, there us nothing dull about the picture and there is nothing dull about you. I think we all get to a point with our blogs where we feel that way and we realize we need to dig a little deeper with our writing. Good luck, my friend.
    Julia recently wrote…About 3My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Julia.
      You’re right about digging deeper. I just can’t quite bring myself to go there…. yet. Some day soon.

  • February 13, 2014 Leslie

    I love my whisk. What a cool post! I’ve never seen this before. I’ve been thinking my blog is a little dull too so I’m trying to spice it up & do a revamp of a sort. Happy Wednesday!
    Leslie recently wrote…Grow Your BlogMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Leslie! Good luck with your revamp!

  • February 13, 2014 erin margolin

    you are anything but dull, Alison.
    but reading this made me pause b/c I think that is what I was grasping at in my own post from earlier today.
    i feel dull. so i’m not writing much. or trying. i think about it a lot, i feel like i write entire posts in my head in the car, or when i’m cooking dinner, or even when the kids are arguing and i’m doing laundry…
    and then… it all falls away.

    i’m so blessed to have you in my life.
    your photo is really cool, by the way (sorry for digressing).
    erin margolin recently wrote…Just Write: Delays and DoctorsMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I know what you mean about writing posts in the head – I do that A LOT. They sound perfect. The sentences falling just right. But when I sit down at my laptop, I struggle.
      I hope you find whatever it is in you that you need to dig out of that space. Just as much as I wish that for myself. And? You are far from dull. xo

  • February 13, 2014 tracy

    The pictures is fantastic. It’s hard to decide how much to share, my friend. I totally get it. xo
    tracy recently wrote…20 Ways You Know That Your Preschooler Has A Tween SiblingMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Which is why I cannot possibly blog every day like you are. I would run out of stuff to say by Day 10. 🙂 xo

  • February 13, 2014 Allie

    Dull would be a tough one to photograph! And I get the feelings of dull, too. I’m snow days bored and dull, believe me. But I don’t feel that your writing is dull – I promise!

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Aw, thanks Allie. Truly.

  • February 13, 2014 Allie

    I love this photo – mostly I think because I could never capture this “dull” item the way you have! You have literally turned something dull (in a few ways) to something striking, shiny. Your blog is never dull and maybe you’re not ready or willing to pour your heart out right now and that’s ok too.
    Allie recently wrote…Is It Work If You Don’t Get Paid?My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, my friend.
      I think I’m not ready internally. I have fears. Ack.

  • February 13, 2014 Galit Breen

    I love the photo you picked, but I’m so sort you’re feeling uninspired! It *will* come back to you! Hang in there and keep writing. And if you’re heart is calling you: ANSWER!
    Galit Breen recently wrote…Spread your wingsMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I’m a little afraid to answer. Especially the one about my mother. I don’t want to hurt her. But I feel like I’m hurting myself by not at least trying to write it out. Sigh. And, thank you. xo

  • February 13, 2014 Sarah

    If you feel like writing that post about not feeling like a great mother… I’m pretty sure I could relate. Gah, this parenting thing is hard. (I don’t think you’re dull, btw!)
    Sarah recently wrote…Freezer Meal Workshop and Wildtree giveawayMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      In actual fact, I did write that post 🙂
      The one I’m struggling with, is writing about the first mothering relationship in my life – with MY mother. Sigh.

  • February 13, 2014 My Inner Chick

    Do you write about the stuff you mentioned above?

    yes. yes. yes.

    you. could. never. be. dull. My dear.

    Why the hell do you think I click over here?

    LOVE!!! U!!! Xx
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Meeting My Favorite Author Thru BloggingMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I thought it was because you liked my hair or something 😉
      Thank you, dear Kim!! Love you. xoxo

  • February 13, 2014 AlwaysARedhead

    Dull – you have described exactly what I have been thinking lately. Though I did buy a new KitchenAid, so my whip isn’t dull..yet, just my life.
    AlwaysARedhead recently wrote…Winter storms and snow angelsMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Pretty sure your life isn’t dull, Catherine! I’ve come to realize that it’s just a matter of perspective.
      How are you enjoying the KitchenAid?

      • February 17, 2014 AlwaysARedhead

        It is all a matter of perspective. I love my new KitchenAid, it hold’s 7 Qt, perfect for bread and it so much quieter than the one it replaced.

  • February 13, 2014 Shannon

    First of all, I love the picture. I didn’t get to it this week but I hope to be back next week.
    Secondly, I understand fully what you are feeling. I, too, feel like I have said all that I can say right now. I don’t think this makes you dull, though. Maybe we both just need to be patient and trust that the stories will come.
    Shannon recently wrote…BreathlessMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Ah, patience. I lack patience. I need patience. 🙂

  • February 13, 2014 Rorybore

    oh I like this one. the interesting shape and the dull surface. very good.

    and you’re writing is anything but boring.
    I think you should definitely write your stories – believe me, someone somewhere will always be able to relate. Or might find help/comfort/peace with the sharing.
    Blogs have ebb and flow just like life, and I think it’s okay to ride out those different seasons.
    Rorybore recently wrote…Through the Lens: DullMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I may just write those stories, and keep them unpublished. I think I need to get them out of my head first, and see how my heart feels. 🙂

  • February 13, 2014 Tamara

    You, my dear, are anything but dull. You are vibrant enough for me to have dreams I’m partying with you in a foreign (to me) country. And your photo isn’t dull either.
    You know me – I tend to spill maybe more than people even want to hear. So I always say, spill from your heart.
    Tamara recently wrote…Time To Get Juicy With Valentine’s Old School Blogging!My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      You’re the sweetest. If only dreams come true.
      Spilling my heart – I want to. I do. Some stories are just harder to spill than others. I’m working on it.

  • February 14, 2014 AwesomelyOZ

    I feel as though there could have been a better depiction of dull – it’s such a strong and powerful word which can be conveyed through so many avenues; maybe like a piece of jewelry that has lost its sparkle? A doll that is a bit lifeless? Especially since you’re saying you don’t feel as though you’re giving your all to your blog – which happens. 🙂 Hope you get your sparkle back! -Iva
    AwesomelyOZ recently wrote…Bear With Me, Si Vous PlaitMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Thank you for your suggestions, Iva. I was out of ideas. I was fixated on the meaning of dull versus shiny. So I only looked for unshiny things. 🙂

  • February 14, 2014 Kerstin

    Love the picture (amazing what those macro lenses can do). If it wasn’t for my husband NEEDING chrome sidebars for his truck, I would have bought myself a DSLR already…
    As for the writing? I get it. When I look at my own timeslines, especially IG there are always the same things: – because that is my life. It’s hard to feel inspired when it’s always the same, but I know you (and I) can find the extraordinary in the ordinary – we just have to quite being so hard on ourselves. xoxox!
    Kerstin recently wrote…Old School Blogging – Valentine’s EditionMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Kerstin. You’re right, it is looking for the extraordinary in the day-to-day, because how often can we do grand stuff?

  • Firstly: Your blog is not dull AT ALL.
    Secondly: Some stories are hard to tell because they take us back to the moment of uncertainty, sheer foolishness or sadness.
    Thirdly: your picture reminds me of a modern artwork I saw recently, again not dull at all! But an interesting perspective.
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…“You should write about it” she said.My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      You’re right about the stories taking me back to moments when I was less than stellar, and a smaller version of myself in every way. I guess I need to overcome some fears. And thank you for your kind words.

  • February 14, 2014 Nicole

    You, my dear, are the farthest thing from dull possible! But we all feel that way sometimes. I’m in a bit of a funk right now with the crazy winter weather, daycare closings, lack of exercise, and work piling up higher than the snow. There are things I want to write, but I just can’t find the time. Or energy. But I know the sun will come out tomorrow (or the next day!), so I’ll power through and give it my all as soon as I can. That’s all anyone can ever ask of themselves. P.S. the photo is awesome!
    Nicole recently wrote…Thanks, Coach: A Guest Post at A Dish of Daily LifeMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Nicole. Tomorrow is a new day. Yes. It is.

  • February 14, 2014 Andrea

    I love the picture, because the perspective is really interesting – I couldn’t work out which way the wires were going, and which was the top, which was the bottom. I think it would look great blown up and hung on the wall – it’s like a work of modern art.
    Andrea recently wrote…Old School Blogging: Valentine’s Day EditionMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Andrea, I’m glad you love the picture!

  • February 14, 2014 Christine

    I love your dull photo – the angle and perspective makes the metal look flexible rather than stiff. When I read your comment on my post this morning about feeling in you don’t have stories to tell, I really struck me because that’s a big part of what the chitchat in my mind is telling me – nothing to see here, no stories to tell, move on. It is hard when many of the stories aren’t ours to share. I keep drafting things in my head (which never makes it to paper) and I’m hoping that I will soon feel inspired again. I hope you do too because you are an amazing storyteller.
    Christine recently wrote…Falling with GraceMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Christine.
      I think you and I are very much in the same boat with regards to respecting that line of “whose story is this anyway?”
      I believe part of it is cultural.
      Part of it for me, is fear. I need to work through that. I hope you do too.

  • February 14, 2014 Keely

    I, too, feel dull. (So do my hair and skin.) You, however, are a shiny, shiny star. (And I think your photo should be in a cooking and cutlery catalog somewhere.)
    Keely recently wrote…The Secret To Valentine’s Day.My Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Keely and dull don’t go in one sentence. 🙂
      And thank you, so very kind of you to say re: photo!

  • February 14, 2014 Katie

    Blame February. February is a dull stupid month no matter where you are. Stupid February.
    Katie recently wrote…Old School ValentineMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Right? Stupid February. (it feels SO long and it’s the shortest month of the year, seriously?)

  • February 14, 2014 Ilene

    Isn’t that the constant toggle as a blogger? What is bloggable and what is not bloggable and what is the truth – our truth – that we want to share? And what needs to stay in our fingers? You always engage us, Alison, even with a photo of a mixing blade.
    Ilene recently wrote…Mixed VibesMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      You’re so very kind and a good friend, Ilene. xo

  • February 14, 2014 Lady Jennie

    Please don’t ever doubt your abilities as a mom. No one could love your kids better than you do. You are perfectly fitted for the role. And I’ve seen how you are with them – you are a great mom.

    Blame it all on the February slump (which surely hits tropical Malaysia too). The dullness does not indicate reality. This is just a really hard month for everyone.

    Cool picture! I love the macro shot.
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…A Peek Inside the Opéra BastilleMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      February sucks!

  • February 14, 2014 Kim

    I love your take on dull, Alison. As soon as I saw the photo I thought “the top of the whisk *is* dull!”
    And I must echo what everyone else is saying: your blog is not dull. (Although, I admit that there are times when I think the same thing about mine.) It is hard to know what to share and when, but I believe the right posts will be in your heart just when they are supposed to be there.
    Kim recently wrote…Old School Blogging – Valentine EditionMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I’m glad you see the “dull” in the photo, Kim!
      And thank you.

  • February 14, 2014 Natalie

    Maybe our winter vibes are coming your way…because that’s how I felt as well. So I think winter is contagious even though you are warm over there 🙂 Or maybe we’re just in a season. I know we’ll get out of our funk!
    Natalie recently wrote…Bits and PiecesMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      I hope it’s just a season because I need to stop feeling this dull, it’s no fun. 🙂

  • February 15, 2014 Nina

    I like how you fulfilled this assignment. Meanwhile, I cannot stop oogling over your site. I know I’ve told you before, but I”m telling you again. It’s GORGEOUS. Bright, happy, clean, and easy. (opposite of DULL!)
    Nina recently wrote…The Art of Communicating via MixtapeMy Profile

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Thank you kindly, Nina!!

  • February 15, 2014 Kimberly

    Know what would make that whip thing not dull?
    Make me a cake with vanilla frosting.
    You’re far from dull my dear. You’re heart shines through your words…even when you don’t feel they are.

    • February 17, 2014 Alison

      Icing would make it better, yes. 🙂
      You are so sweet. xoxo

  • February 20, 2014 KalleyC

    I love the photo! Dull would be hard to photography for sure! I don’t think there is anything dull about you, but it’s interesting how we internalize things we see externally.
    KalleyC recently wrote…Valentine’s Day On Your TermsMy Profile

    • February 20, 2014 Alison

      Thanks for your kind words, Kalley. Yes, we definitely do internalize!

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