Why Do We Photograph the Things We Do?

Dried roses. Shot in natural light, 1/60th sec @ f4, ISO 400. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Dried roses. Shot in natural light, 1/60th sec @ f4, ISO 400. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

As in, why do I like to photograph some things while you are attracted to others? Better yet, what is the mental/creative/visioning process we all go through in order to ‘see’ a photograph we want to shoot? Is this process the same for everyone, or is it unique for every individual?

These are some of the thoughts banging around in my head today. I’m thinking especially about the process by which we ‘see’ photographs to shoot, where maybe yesterday or the day before, in exactly the same location, we walked right by without seeing a thing. Why is this so true? Fascinating, don’t you think?

I was reminded of this central fact about our photographic process yesterday. I was in the laundry room of our home and glanced to see a small, tight bundle of dried roses my wife had saved. The bundle has been hanging there for two, maybe three months, up under a dry erase board we use to write grocery lists  between trips to the store. I’d never really thought much about these dried roses, other than thinking it was vaguely attractive and wondering what my wife was planning to do with it.

Dried roses. Shot in natural light, 1/60th sec @ f4, ISO 400. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Dried roses. Shot in natural light, 1/60th sec @ f4, ISO 400. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Well, yesterday the light was very diffused and soft in the room, and as I went to write something on the board, I glanced down and saw the most incredible softness and detail in the bundle…something fragile and beautiful in all of those petals….I rushed to get a camera and spent the next 15 minutes or so looking and shooting.

Dried rose detail. 1/60th sec @ f4, ISO 400.  (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Dried rose detail. 1/60th sec @ f4, ISO 400. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

The roses, dry erase board, laundry room. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

The roses, dry erase board, laundry room. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

What had changed? What was there that day that wasn’t there before?

The answer, I think, all lies between our ears: what we’re able to visualize and  photograph is entirely dependent upon what we’re capable of seeing in this amazing world we live in. And that, of course, is very dependent upon our frame of mind at any given point in time. Some days (maybe most days) we’re in such a rush we can’t see a thing. Trying to shoot when you’re this preoccupied can be a mechanical and unproductive activity. Other days, when the planets are aligned for you just so, the photographs are everywhere! This is when life is good and you give thanks for being alive and being a photographer.

May we all have more of those days!

selfport1aHi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Related articles on the web:

‘Seeing Photographs’ at Shutterfreaks

‘Seeing Photographs’ at Outdoor Photographer

‘Seven Ways to Improve Your Photographic Vision’

‘Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision’

Posted in: Inspire

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

5 Comments on "Why Do We Photograph the Things We Do?"

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  1. Thank you for the post, I have reflected on what you say and it has been an interesting process.

    Interestingly, I have noticed the way I take and edit photographs changes with my mood, emotions and weather!!

    Without realising it I sometime revisit images taken weeks or months before and because I am in a different place (emotionally) I find images I had previously discarded as duds.

    I also seem to go through differing PS methods depending on Mood and situation.

    Thanks for helping me to focus on this, now to use it as a creative stance.

  2. Thanks Cornwall, for such a thoughtful comment. This is at the core of everything we do, isn’t it?

  3. David Bundy says:

    Thanks for putting your thoughts down on this. I absolutely feel it some days more than others.

  4. Photographing Moments says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    It’ seems like such a simple concept…so simple and logical that we never stop to think about it – and when we do, it seems revolutionary. Or is it revolutionary that we’ve actually stopped rushing and made time to wonder in thoughts?

    Such fresh yet rusty tones those roses have. Calming.

    Your post has just helped me to find confidence with my current project.

  5. Glad to hear it! thanks.

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