Confession: I’m still learning to see. Even though I’ve been practicing visual design principles for my photography for fifteen years, I’m still learning. Even though I’ve been teaching workshops on seeing for seven years, I’m still learning to see. Noticing perceptions and seeing the whole picture is part of my daily life and photo walks, but I can always go deeper. There’s still so much I don’t see. My husband points out things I’ve missed all the time.
Of course, there is no end to this learning. I’ll never be an expert see-er.
In my workshops, I recommend looking at the work of other photographers who are more advanced on a particular topic, or do it particularly well. In a recent abstract photography class, a participant (Colleen) pointed me towards a photographer on Instagram, who I’d not heard of – she is from Australia and goes by the name steffentuck. When I looked at her work, I was mesmerized. Through her simplicity of colour, lines, and angles, she creates magic. Here’s one I particularly like.
This type of work may not be for everyone, but it is for me. It affects me on a visceral level. And when that’s the case, I pay attention.
I realized that I didn’t see what she saw. The next time I went out for a walk, I tried to see the way she does and I couldn’t. This way of seeing wasn’t yet available to me. So, I’ve been practicing and it’s not easy; in fact, it can be quite frustrating. Yet, this is when I get curious. It’s a challenge, a puzzle to figure out. It’s added a sense of excitement to my walks. The other day I practiced at a closed down school. And, as I go about my day and especially when I’m out and about running errands, I’m on the lookout for the edges of things. My first attempts have been pretty lame but that’s okay. It’s all in the name of practice. It’s not that I want to be like her or create work exactly like hers. I just want to be able to see at that level.
How about you? Whose work do you admire and do you follow through with practice?