I decide what to photograph any old way I want to, but if I had to categorize what is going on in my head and heart, here are 7 attitudes I try to keep as I take photographs (but may toss out on any given day!):
- No Mistakes
- No Rules
- Feel the connection
- Be Present
- Honor intuition
- Lose expectations
- Be grateful
There are no mistakes. I have found with my abstract photography, that I can often work with an image that was a “mistake”. Countless times, when I come back to my catalog of images, I find one that didn’t capture what I thought I wanted from it, but upon reflection, there is something there that I want to work with. Sometimes it inspires me in a new creative way, and sometimes it forces me to learn a new post-processing technique. Of course, if it has insurmountable technical challenges… I delete it eventually. But I give myself time to be sure that it doesn’t speak to me in a new way.
There are no rules. I don’t limit myself when I look at things. I don’t follow an “assignment” unless I’ve imposed it upon myself (and I break my assignment freely).
It is helpful to at least know what are some generally agreed upon rules of good photography and how people see. I know that they actually represent some great guidance. But I don’t let them control what I see and like. I just let them inform my choices at more of a subconscious level.
Note: As a beginner, following some basic rules just until you understand them is a good learning tool.
Feel the Connection
I ask myself what attracts me, and I focus on that. For my type of photography, that means color, form, texture, shapes, patterns, mystery and light. I am so in love with color, so I feel an emotional connection to that usually first… and I love to play make-believe. So I will look at a scene to see if it triggers my imagination in some way. Is there more than one way of looking at it? Does it inspire awe at the intricacy or the patterns or natural balance of forms?
I seek to apprehend the world around me as it is. I notice what is in the visual details, all of my other senses, and where I am emotionally in that moment too. If I’m sad, mad or glad I notice different things in the moment. That’s exactly where I am. I go with it. I let it flow by. I’m not thinking about an assignment, or what other people are doing, or feeling like I “have” to produce a masterpiece. I’m not thinking about my to-do list, either. Photographing is a type of meditation, and the results reflect “where I am” in the present.
I have a background awareness of art elements, and art history that influences what I’m attracted to, and what I see as the “star” of the possible image. I allow my intuition to operate as I explore. If I have a nudge, I budge.
I don’t overthink. I don’t have to find anything. There’s always another day, another opportunity. If I’m excited… I let myself be excited. If I’m bored, I look more closely or just let it go.
I enjoy myself, and I feel gratitude for so many interesting visual details around me. I can’t help but wonder at a “master” creator at work when I see the amazing complexities and patterns and vivid harmonious colors in the natural world. Even the works of humankind degrade in a beautiful way due the effects of nature upon them.
All I can share is how it works for me. And just maybe, my process of seeing will trigger some new insights for you too!