Attention is so automatic that it's hard to notice where our eyes go. As visual creatures, we learn to scan out of survival I think, diverting focus to movement
at potential threats. It's amusing to think I'm working so hard all the time at hunting for the anti-threat. I'm not necessarily on the lookout for beauty, which is subjective anyway, but I am watching out for photo traps-- attention getting points of view. I love to tweak viewers and startle them into noticing. I am NOT always successful at this. (And a note here-- this photo blog is a diary, not a lecture. I don't presume to know. I share what I've learned and espouse belief.) Regardless, I catch myself zeroing in on a focus point which is helped by receding line, and prefer when a certain resonance occurs because of weight between elements. That's as specific as I dare go. It is a dance between the general and the specific on this topic-- the subjective and objective.
This is a heads up. I obviously love this craft and do it a lot. Whenever I go anywhere-- around the block, around the globe, I'm packing heat, watching and waiting, armed to the teeth. My poor spouse.
She observes and writes and sketches, but mostly she waits. For me. I love her for it. She knew coming in what she signed on for. This is a real issue for us shooters. We must respect our subjects, but we must respect our partners even more. Be kind. Give them a break. Understand how taxing it is for fellow travelers. Put the damned
thing away once in a while. Don't show them every shot.
It's not a bad idea to wander with a fellow photographic traveller too. And sometimes they can be an extra set of eyes and ears. Or competition. But that's good. My friend Jrdn gets it.
Using the inventive mind is a practice. It definitely atrophies if left idle. I know it when I've been doing crossword puzzles. I watch myself, like in the face of a road block-- if I've been actively imagining-- like for solving puzzles, I am more tenacious and find ways around the problem. And it's the same when I forage for imagery, I see better the more I look. Above, I became interested in the cardboard fruit packing form, and from a new angle, it became a crowd of hunched over men. Sci-fi, futuristic. And it's packing paper.
I am always surprised. It's a surprise to have one's attention stolen; startling to be compelled to bring the lens to bear. But it's particularly surprising when the image is re-presented on the screen (I hardly see a print of it anymore, sadly). Quite often I won't know why I took it. And every time I look at a shot for the first time after taking it I remember the impulse behind pressing the shutter. But what really puzzles me is whether I saw all of those wonderful details at that moment? In this one, I know I liked the derelict facade and the Chinese laundry and the bags piled in the window. It is a place of storied use and a thickness of history. But the nagging question is- did I see her? Did I see the lady? She's looking at the bikes. This all happened in three seconds. I am deliberately writing this blog to survey the fifty thousand images I must have by now and every one has a reason and a question. Review your work!
The walkabout in a foreign land wakes up the eyes and heart like nothing else. For the native, things disappear. But to the visitor, it's impossible not to see everything at once. The challenge, then, is to be a visitor at home.