Don’t Just Look…Learn to See


If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you're not out there, you'll only hear about it.  

-Jay Maisel

On of my favorite images shot this year. A silhouette of a family shot at my neighborhood club house. A place I have visited often but never thought to shoot.

On of my favorite images shot this year. A silhouette of a family shot at my neighborhood club house. A place I have visited often but never thought to shoot.

As the year is winding down and I once again find myself reflecting on what I have learned and how I have grown this past year. 

I am much more comfortable with the technical stuff: different cameras, lights, and gadgets. What I didn't realize until just recently is that shooting everyday has taught me to really see the world around me. What a great unexpected gift. What do I mean you ask? If we are blessed with sight we often go through life taking so much of the world around us for granted. Think about it - On your drive to work you are probably so used to the route you don’t really see what you are passing each day - you just glance as you are driving past.

Even with the great advancements in cameras they still do not possess a seeing mode. Which I suppose is a good thing as seeing is personal experience flavored by who we are. A sum of all our experiences if you will. The camera is just the tool we used to see the world.

I recently watched Jeremy Cowart’s video Lifefinder. In one section Jeremy talks about how he often takes different routes to the same places to keep his creativity going, always scouting for new locations to shoot. Yep, it is just that simple

I have always been a little crazy with my camera: pulling the car over to shoot something that caught my eye or stopping in mid sentence to wonder off and take a shot of something in the distance. I have this insatiable drive to document and capture the world around me. Lucky for me my family is used to it. So stopping everything to snap a photograph is part of who I am. But now I find myself really seeing things that I have passed many times before. I am more in-tuned and I have been training myself to really see…how cool it is that! 

At Photoshop World a few years ago I was listening to Jay Maisel speak about how he always carries his camera with him. I have tried to incorporate always having a camera with me ever since. It is a little easier as most cell phones have cameras now days but there have defiantly been times I wish I had my nikon with me and not just my cell phone camera. I have recently taken to using my cell phone and a cool app MacAPic to scout locations that I would like to shoot. Another tip I picked up from Jeremy have a location folder. For me nothing sparks creativity more than having a visual image to start the process.

Another reason I often review the work of photographers I admire not because I want to copy or even emulate their images. More because I want to be inspired by those that inspire me - to take what I have learned and make it my own. I find it challenging to dissect the image - a kind of how did they do that? It forces me to think, draw on my knowledge and search if its something I don't know.

I am finishing off my year more in love with photography than ever before. The ability of a photography  to move me to tears, trigger a memory,  take me back to a time and place long forgotten, conjure an emotion I can’t  even explain is priceless to me. Do you know what I am talking about? Have you ever stopped what you are doing to look at an image that just moves you. Thats why photographers shoot to try and capture the moment we see and share it before it is gone forever! Happy Holidays and Happy Shooting!

Stay Beautiful!