Behind the tea

by Maya Juarez-Peña 5 months ago in editing

It's not just in the leaves

Behind the tea
The Final Image

This may seem like just an ordinary picture of two tea cups and some loose leaf tea. Behind that is the idea and the inspiration that pushes me and motivates me.


Lets start with how I got these beautiful tea cups. Around October, I had some family in town and we went over to this little fancy tea room in Carefree, AZ. Now this is a place where ladies from all around the state come to put on their fancy hats, snack on finger sandwiches, provisions and have high tea at The English Rose Tea Room.

I immediately fell in love with the adorable and delicate tea cups that we drank from. The cute tea pots, the real sugar cubes and little tongs that we grab them with. It was an experience in itself. Each tea cup and tea pot was different and had their own little style to it. I could not get over how much more amazing my tea was just drinking it from here with the ambiance of the place, the people I was with or how the tea was prepared, I LOVED it.

Fast forward to December and I get a package in the mail from the cousin that was visiting from out of state and went with us to the tea room. Inside the carefully packaged box were two tea cups with their little saucer plates and two small spoons. Along with a note that said, "just because you are awesome!"

Why tea cups?:

Now why would I want to take a picture of tea cups and why would people even care?

To me these are not just tea cups. They are an inspiration and a motivation for so much. I could just place them on the table and take a quick picture with my phone and leave it, but that would not fulfill my artist desires and would not capture the beauty that I see in these cups to be shared with others.

I have always had this creative side and when I see something beautiful I can not just snap a quick picture and be happy with it. I want to make sure that I have the best angle, the best lighting and have things arranged in the most appealing way. First deciding if I wanted either an aerial view or maybe a slightly lowered angled view. To get to this one final picture I had to arrange the cups and spoons in different ways while trying to make the loose leaf tea look like it was just spilled naturally. Using my camera on my iPhone 7 and the photo editor that comes with the phone is how I achieved the final image, adjusting the light saturation, exposure, brightness and contrast.

The full process involved tossing the tea, making sure it was not too clumpy in one spot and not to spread out in another. Cleaning it up and tossing it down on the table again just to not be happy with it and do it again, searching for that "natural" look. Moving the spoons around on the table and not liking that, to maybe having one on the saucer and one on the table. Maybe both on the sauce or one in the cup? Did I want the cup handles to be facing the same direction or opposite? Did I want the tea pot in the picture too or just the cups? Did I want actual tea in them, maybe some tea drops on the table? Some sugar spilled on the table too?

I ask my self all these questions as I am snapping pictures along the way using it as a checklist of ideas and then at the end I go back reviewing all of them.

Thinking about all these little things all while trying to get the idea across of something so delicate and beautiful is actually pretty difficult. As you can see below multiple pictures and positioning resulted in what I feel is a very well designed and captured picture.

Anyone can point a phone at a still object or person and tap the screen to take the picture. When you look beyond the screen and think about what it will look like on the other side and to other viewers gives you a different perspective.

Just a picture?

Now to anyone who sees this picture may just see two pretty cups. To me I see two beautiful cups that are ready and wanting to be filled with a delicious warming tea to help inspire and motivate the mind and body. There are so many different kinds of teas that you can make, and different kinds of teas that can make you feel different ways and have different purposes.

When I make tea in one of these cups I feel like I am making a cup of love and inspiration. Drinking out of a colorful or beautiful cup I feel inspired to create new pieces of art, and to try to photograph new places or things. Seeing the colors and designs surrounding the cup I get new color scheme ideas or a different view on life around me or on maybe a previous idea I had. Maybe knowing that the cup is filled with an earl grey tea and with the tea pot next to it I see plenty of caffeine to push me to get work done.

Can you simply look at a plain white cup of coffee or tea and feel like it is surrounded by ideas and inspiration? Possibly, but very rarely do I experience that. I need colors, shapes and accents.

Below is a screen shot of some of the images that I captured at different stages of the shoot. Adding in some elements, taking some out. Arranging and changing the angles. All are unedited until I find the one I like the best and make a few adjustments. Though the movements, items added or replaced might seem small, it makes a big difference in the end.

Maya Juarez-Peña
Maya Juarez-Peña
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Maya Juarez-Peña
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