The practice of contemplative photography requires an appreciation of the familiar. The photographer who wants to see and who desires to create fine images must recognize the familiar, the mundane others may walk past without pausing to observe. Remember: One’s ability to see is not increased by the distance one puts between oneself and one’s home! If we do not see everything that is around us at home we will not see what matters when we travel to a new city or explore an unfamiliar landscape.
I was reminded of the fact that “good seeing” begins with careful observation of my surroundings a few evenings ago while exploring one of my favourite beaches, Wasson’s Bluff. I looked across the low tide plane toward Clarke Head. Framing the images brought my attention to the large boulder a few feet away. What caught my attention immediately was the area where the wet sand reflected the evening light. I moved a little closer to make the boulder my main focus but I immediately realized that what really drew me and constituted the flash of perception all along was the space that let the light pass through.
It is this skill of recognizing and evaluating the subject matter on its own merits that really counts when making fine art images. The camera is a good tool to employ while honing this skill but, over time, we observe and identify such flashes of perception naturally. It is not necessary to always make an image. We can move in, see what has demanded our attention, internalize the moment and move away. It is a form of meditation to walk through familiar and unfamiliar surroundings, seeing subject matter, taking note and moving on.
I encourage everyone to try “seeing” today. Let me know what you think and leave a comment below. Enjoy your day and the exercise, Anna