“The question is not what you look at but what you see.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
To me photography is less about the mechanics of the camera than the ability to “see” in the creative sense. Developing a creative eye is about seeing things in a different way; a personal visual opinion rather than obvious point of view. We all have preconceived ideas about how something should look, and that is what we photograph, so if we want to be creative we must drop these preconceptions and start looking at things in a whole new way. Even if you already have an artistic vision, know the elements of design, and understand the rules of composition, the challenge is to translate that through the lens of a camera.
My favorite book on photography, read years and years ago and which made a big impact on how I approach taking pictures, is “Photography and the Art of Seeing” by Freeman Patterson. It offers lessons on how to develop creative vision, “think sideways,” and how to go about breaking many of the “rules” of photography to accomplish that. Its exercises help you see the extraordinary in everyday items. I thought it was a wonderful book at the time and – to me – this is what makes photography challenging and fun.
While I don’t claim to be an expert at any of this, I care a lot more about this aspect of photography than what f-stop I’m using. I usually come home from a vacation with one or two “weird” pictures that maybe no one but me likes, but I really like them. These are the photos that keep me taking more pictures, even if no one else understands them.
By the way, please don’t buy this book. It will change your photography. I feel like I have an advantage, and I want to keep it! Now I think I’ll go re-read it and get inspired once more….. I have decided I need to take more “weird photos.”