We live in a culture of overstimulation. Colors, images, lights, words, all demanding our attention at all times. For our brains to be able to process anything at all we have to have dozens of filters in place to sift through the visual noise. Just to read this words alone, you need to hone in on a very finite vision. In your periphery you see the rest of the room, your desk, the keyboard, other windows, but until I’ve brought it to your attention had most likely successfully filtered them out of what your brain was registering so that it could truly be focused on the words. These filters are in place to help us focus and stay mentally in the moment, but they can also filter out some of the magic happening all around us. I find this is especially true when our brains fill-in-the-blanks with things we think *should* be there. (For example, when I was driving the other day I saw a pedestrian with these amazing platform shoes. I was ogling them and thinking I would never be able to walk far in such spectacularly tall things these days. My eyes went back to the red light to wait. My brain pulling me back to the shoes had to check out what kind of gutsy gal would be able to take those on and when I managed to draw my eyes up from the shoes, the head attached looked to belong to a member of ZZ Top. I was SHOCKED that I had not noticed that she was never she at all.)
Photography is a constant lesson in learning how to see. For me, removing obvious distracting stimulation and filters is both rewarding and essential to create successful images*. The easiest way I have found to find the images my eyes are trained not to see by daily life and incorporate them into my creative vision, is to be still.
Turn off your phone.
Then look again.
Look through the camera and recompose.
Shoot and then put the camera back down so you can look some more without the barrier of the camera body.
I took myself to the beach yesterday. It was a moderately popular stop just off 101. I watched a half dozen people come down the same path as I pull out a camera, shoot the ocean, shoot the crags, and turn around to go back to the car. Each person took home the same two shots. I wish they had taken a little time to see.
At top: Sea Foam at Carl Washburn State Park
*and a successful and sane life!