LOOKING WITHIN/PHOTOGRAPHING WITHOUT
Photography is the art of looking out; out through the lens, out from your own perspective, out into the world. But to make (as opposed to ‘take’) better photographs I believe that if you go inward first you can make this process much more effective and rewarding. This inwardly derived vision will allow you to better communicate your point of view as well as better understand and express your own inner ‘voice’.
To be in touch with your inner self is to quiet the inner chatter and strip away layers to get at what is really important. Meditation, yoga, breath awareness, long walks in nature, solitude; there are many ways of getting there. This same process can be applied to making a strong photograph. You strip away the outer layer of visual clutter (in-camera framing and choice of perspective) until you focus in on what is really important to the meaning of the picture. Most people point the camera at their intended subject, place that somewhere near the center of the viewfinder, and then snap away. But if you can stop and breathe, turn inward for a moment, then more concretely identify what your subject really is and your deeper relationship to this subject; be it people, place, thing, or even mood or emotion. You can then remove what is extraneous while keeping what is essential. The more you leave out the stronger what remains becomes. Feel your connection to your chosen subject. Feel your relationship to the place or space your subject occupies and hold that as important as the subject itself. Then tap into your intuition to arrange these forms within the space of your frame. This will make your composition even stronger. It is an act both of simplification and of clarification. The more you do this the more powerful your photographs become.
This ‘less is more’ approach applies to photo equipment as well. Many believe that more equipment, cameras and lenses give more chance of success. Really it just helps us feel more like a photographer because we have all the ‘stuff’ we believe photographers should have. I believe the more we bring with us the less our chances are of making good photographs. Ansel Adams said “the more lenses you have the greater the chance of using the wrong one.” With more choices our energy goes into choosing what equipment to use in a situation rather than connecting and engaging with our subject. The less equipment you bring, and the more you become really familiar with what equipment you do have, the easier it will be to react to and engage with your subject or situation. This allows you to move past the generic snapshot and towards a more personal and unique view of your chosen subject.
“It is only with the heart that we can see rightly.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
-St Exupery from ‘The Little Prince’
©Douglas Beasley 2012