The Art of Seeing in Photography

Today I am going to try something a little different. Since seriously getting into this blog over the last few weeks,  I have written about issues that range from remembrance to the occupy movement. I have not really talked much about myself and who I really am.  I have mentioned that I do like to travel and that I am a photography enthusiast. I am not really a writer. However, I am trying.

I have always loved photography and how it can open us up to a whole world of options. I used to run a small photography business. I would shoot primarily weddings, portraits and community sporting events. This was back in the day when digital cameras were in their early stages and priced way out of my range. I used a Nikon 35mm camera with an assortment of lenses and I also used a medium format Mamiya 645 for my wedding and portrait shots. I wouldn’t call myself a professional by any means. At least not as a photographer. Today, I am just a hobbyist who loves what can be learned from the photos I do find time to take. Photography has taught me many things. It’s more than just an art, it’s a tool that allows us to perceive that which is around us. It allows us to see our world as it turns and capture it forever.  The Picture below is an example.

I took this while in San Diego. This Photograph is the famous ‘End of War Kiss’ statue. I only snapped the close up of the kiss to try to offer a different perspective on the typical shot of the full length statue.

The original picture which is below we have all seen before. In fact, it captures that very second of the announcement of the Japanese surrender in World War Two and the celebration that ensued in Time Square, New York.  The photographer who snapped this picture had to be fully aware of his surroundings. He needed to be in tune with all that was going on. He had to have the skill of observation working for him.


In my life, I am a negotiator.  A key skill for a negotiator is the need of understanding and becoming aware of your surroundings. You need to be able to see how people are reacting and sense how they feel. The same can be said for capturing that perfect photo. Photography has taught me how to and enhanced my ability to be aware of my surroundings. It has taught me how to see, how to observe. The art of seeing in photography is built around the three principles of observation, imagination and expression.

Seeing in the broadest sense means using your senses. It means looking at your subject matter with your whole being. To make a great photograph you have to look beyond the basic and discover the world around you. In the art of seeing, when we look at something that appears to be mundane we need to look beyond the basic features and discover how all of those features combined portray a theme that is filled with expression.

In order to see when shooting photography, we need to overcome the barriers to seeing. We need to look beyond what is actually in front of us. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be free to break the rules, thinking laterally, studying the familiar and clearing our mind to make room for observation. It’s about visually thinking. The same might also be said about everyday life.

In short, the concept is simple. In order to improve ones photography, you must work on your ability to see the world around you, and understand the best way to translate that vision into a photograph. I continue to learn to see each time I take my camera out for some adventure.

While out on a hike with my wife this past summer, we came upon some waterfalls and as I was looking around, I noticed my wife sitting on a log with her feet in the water enjoying her surroundings so I captured this shot.


10 thoughts on “The Art of Seeing in Photography

  1. This is just profound (and I’d like you to know I just borrowed it as my status on FB today):

    “In order to improve ones photography, you must work on your ability to see the world around you, and understand the best way to translate that vision into a photograph. I continue to learn to see each time I take my camera out for some adventure.”

    They just translate this thought I wanted to say for so long — for me.

    Don’t worry, the credit is given to you.

    1. Thanks for dropping in on me and thanks for the ‘like’. I agree if we really open our eyes we can experience so much that we tend to miss along the way. There really is something to be said about stopping and smelling the roses!

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