Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A view from a couch

In a couple of weeks I'm giving a short talk in North Carolina and so right now I've got "seeing" on my mind. The other day I was sitting on the couch, getting acquainted with a camera, and I quickly took a few photos. This morning I realized that for just sitting on the couch, snapping away, the photos aren't bad. They're not great, but — and this is important — I made the most of the situation. I looked, composed, and clicked the shutter.

Abby across the room stayed put for a few minutes, contemplating a basket of agates, where she will carefully select one, drag it out of the basket, and hide it under a chair or cabinet. A vase of dried poppy pods on the "Holly Cabinet" caught my eye, the way the sun shone on a floor lamp, shadows on a knob, and the simple inlay on a cedar chest completed the mix.

Could I have taken more? Yes. But photography wasn't my goal right then. Figuring out the functions of the camera was what I was working on.

The point of all this is that seeing, looking, noticing are the quietly important aspects of photography. Cameras do so much for us and so easily that we often forget the human being behind the viewfinder, our unique vision, the thing that makes our photos ours. Teaching someone to see is the most challenging part of my job. But sometimes it just requires sitting on a couch, looking around. ©Carol Leigh