The Mundane

What makes us distinct as photographers is the ‘Ability to See’ the world in our own unique way. Others describe this as a process of cultivating ‘A Seeing Eye’. Whatever terminology we choose to use, what underpins the art of ‘Seeing’ is a heightened state of visual awareness. And as our awareness develops, it starts to become a permanent state of affairs. It doesn’t switch off simply because we have left the camera at home. We continue to scan the world around us for potential images. It becomes a subconscious state of mind.

Annie Leibovitz wrote: ‘One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.’

Even when we come home from a shoot and put the camera down, our home itself comes under scrutiny too. We see images everywhere. Nothing escapes our gaze, not even the mundane.

We haven’t had many sunny days recently but a few days ago I went upstairs into one of the bedrooms and sunlight was filtering through the blind. A trail of light flowed across the duvet and imprinted on the wall behind. A scene we might see a hundred times and dismiss – but I saw something there that grabbed my attention, and the reason for climbing the stairs was forgotten in the rush to find the camera and capture that scene before the light was lost.IMG_8405_2

Such behaviour may be met with puzzlement and bewilderment by our nearest and dearest, but I am willing to bet that many of you reading this will be nodding your heads at this point and thinking: – Yes, I behave like that too, and Yes, sometimes they think I’m nuts!

For another Post along similar lines you might be interested in viewing Four on the Floor.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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16 Responses to The Mundane

  1. Chillbrook says:

    As your quote so eloquently distils things Andy, if we see a photo, we’ve got to have it even if that means wrestling open a car door in 70mph arctic winds or grabbing the camera and photographing that which noone else in a room might see.
    I’m not sure NICE has any guidelines as yet but.. 🙂

  2. shoreacres says:

    I can’t believe this. I just — five minutes ago — tucked that very quotation into the draft of an essay. A reader asked last night, “How do you decide what to write about?” and my answer was, essentially, that I keep my eyes open. Raiford Sripling, a historical restoration architect who currently is fascinating me, said the same: use your eyes in the present, to find clues to the past.

    As a matter of fact, in response to that same reader’s comment, I wrote, about twelve hours ago, “I just look around, to see what’s there. I’m always looking.” When I found Leibovitz’s quote this morning, I nearly died. To come across it again in your post is just marvelous. What a serendipitous world we live in.

    And the photo’s great. Despite the varied patterns and shapes, I see it as a single, V-shaped object: like a paper airplane made from a catalogue page.

    • LensScaper says:

      Serendipity indeed, Linda! It’s a small world isn’t it. Each time the deadline for a Post looms, I think: What shall I post today? The pleasure that I value in writing a Blog is that there is no-one out there telling me what to do or what topic to choose. I am my own master, a free agent. And it’s the same with my photography – I don’t shoot with the idea of finding something that others might like or might do well in a competition or be accepted for an exhibition. I’ve been there and done that. Now I shoot entirely for ‘me’ and if others like it then that is always a bonus.

  3. athyfoto says:

    Absolutely spot on Andy. Annie Leibovitz is right, it is always on and sometimes I wonder if it’s a curse. 😉

  4. oneowner says:

    I believe that most photographers have that ability to see but some have it more than others and that makes their images exceptional. Annie Leibovitz has it in spades, no doubt, but there are so many good photographers out there that have not achieved her kind of recognition.

    • LensScaper says:

      Your are right, Ken. I think, also, that we never stop finessing that ability to see; it sharpens, it shifts focus depending on a considerable number of inputs and creative nudges.

  5. Yes, guilty as charged hahhaaha

  6. Excellent capture – and you’re right about the photographer’s vision always being “on”. 🙂

  7. Len says:

    Nice catch Andy. I think seasoned photographers are always looking for subjects to shoot. I think that it takes a constant effort when you first start “looking”. It later becomes an unconscious habit which is when some other person might say, “Where did you see that?” even though they were with you.

    • LensScaper says:

      Absolutely right about Seeing being subconscious, Len. If I’m out struggling to see then more often than not it is because other thongs are competing for my attention – pressure, anxiety, shortness of time etc. We need to be relaxed and unhurried to drop into the ‘Zone’

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