Practicing Seeing

rusty train bridge detail

photoset on flickr

This effort to work on photography is harder than I expected. On the one hand, I’ve never taken a class before, so I suppose that it’s understandable that I could use some practice. But on the other hand, I feel like I go through my days seeing beauty and cause for wonder constantly. Just picking up the camera and centering things in the frame just does not capture all that!

I’m realizing just how much work my brain does as I look around. It crops the visual field. It fills in background information about what I’m seeing. It focuses attention, blocking out things that are not of current interest. And when one photographs things, one has to move and manipulate the camera to do all that for the viewer. Because they can’t see what I see, they can only see what my camera sees.

Perhaps all that is obvious to anyone who’s done a lot of photography, but for me it’s kind of a new struggle. After having had my camera for a year and a half, I feel like I’m finally hitting my stride in terms of using my camera to help me see and edit and curate the visual world. Before it was just a functional tool to document my work. This is definitely a lot more fun!

All this has given me a much greater appreciation for all the work I see on Flickr. Many of the photos I’m attracted to are simple, focusing on a compelling object. But the photographer still has to do alot of work to let that object compel us directly. The photographer has to “get out of the way,” so that it’s just us and the beautiful thing, without us being reminded that there’s a camera and another person and their brain in between.

flickr favorites 12/1/07 big huge labs mosaic

1. phil carrizzi33, 2. phil carrizzi11, 3. Untitled, 4. Ring 54.6 – Anello 54.6 YOKE RING, 5. in the home of Mr. C. L. Morehead, 6. in the home of Mr. C. L. Morehead, 7. *, 8. NEWW085, 9. Untitled, 10. jaroslaw westermark, kolekcja pierscionkow, 11. Disembodied Marionette Hands, 12. Ceropegia haygarthii flower, 13. Untitled, 14. moon globes, 15. Wunderkammer: Collective, 16. hammer-head 1 001, 17. zoo friends, 18. Untitled, 19. necklace, 20. Hoya companulata (syn. wallichii), 21. Epiphyllum Oxypetalum, 22. this…, 23. Stapelia leendertziae, 24. iwona nowicka- falcman, pierscionek, 25. Eggs with Windy Scrolls Inside, 26. Whale, 27. dress #9 state 3 (detail), 28. Froe touchmarks, 29. happy halloween!, 30. The Fields of Flanders, 31. The Middle of Nowhere, 32. jacek domanski, bransoleta, 33. 3 color frogs 4, 34. Wax Anatomical Heart in a Glass Dome, 35. The Boatman, 36. this…

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