Seeing the World Differently

Continued from: Discovering Photo Technology & Technique

My photography, at it's best, was from the gut. But my gut was slowly being informed by these rules and a growing understanding of the medium, that was gained through empirical trials and errors. While it was from the gut, so to speak, it turned out that the more I practiced, the better my gut would be at finding the moment, framing and taking the pictures. Over time, I found that taking photos helped me to see the world differently.

Extraordinary Everyday Photography: Awaken Your Vision to Create Stunning Images Wherever You Are

Extraordinary Everyday Photography: Awaken Your Vision to Create Stunning Images Wherever You Are

For people who don't understand what I mean by this, by way of analogy, think about the difference between driving through a neighborhood and walking through a neighborhood. When you're driving, you end-up missing many details and may not remember much of what you passed. But when you're walking  you tend to see differently and retain more details.  Likewise, viewing the world though a camera you just tend to notice more detail, more color, more contrast and visual relationships.  You in fact begin to see the world differently.

This reminds me of another gift from my friend Randy: when we would go out into the world to take photos, he'd say, "let's put on our camera eyes." This is something that stayed with me because our camera eyes can be so very different than our regular eyes.

Photography as Art

At some point I decided that for photography to aspire to be art, it must be informed as much by the work of painters as it was by other photographers. Perhaps I was stepping back 100 years to a time when early photographers grappled with trying to fit the novelty of photography into a longer line of fine art, particularly painting. Again, I was taking the longer path.

Edward Weston

Edward Weston

But having that extra century beyond the early photographers, I was able see the world of photos through the lens of not just the history of photography, but the history of modern art.  This included decades of experiments in virtually every direction: traditional landscape and figurative art giving way to impression and the surrealism, cubism, expressionism, minimalism and other experimental forms from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Fortunately I was not alone in this way of thinking.

There were plenty of photographers ahead of me who had taken a similar approach. They were my teachers, or at least their photos were my teachers.  It was incredibly liberating for me, but at the same time I found I was struggling with various aspects of photography. Even with my artistic ideas, I was still making lots of technical mistakes, which undercut the art of what I was doing.  I still had learning to do. And as much as I admired Ansel Adams absolute technical mastery, I was always seeking ways to use photography to see differently and be an intermediary of that vision.

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