Tuesday, February 3, 2009

seeing takes practice

You need to be able to shoot in your own backyard. If you think you can't practice until you go on vacation, or until you're somewhere 'interesting,' you're mistaken. If you can't shoot at home, on your own block, you're not going to be able to shoot in Paris, or the Amazon rainforest, or Antarctica. It's not the place you're in, it's what you're able to see, and seeing takes practice.
--Ben Long, photographer and author

Strange, but this quote reminds me of the words spoken by Mother Teresa, "We look but we do not see." Everyday we go through life looking, but fail to take notice of the details, the beauty, the suffering and the meaning that surrounds us. We miss so much. Not because we're necessarily indifferent, but because we just don't take time to see. Maybe it's because we've never really practiced 'seeing.' Mother Teresa was encouraging us to be spiritually sensitive, to move outside of ourselves and enter into the lives of those we meet. Long, in addressing our artistic insensitivity, says that we can learn to see by taking photos at home and in our neighborhood. It's hard to get motivated to do this when everything is so familiar, so typical. But his advice is helpful. Doing this forces us to look around our daily lives with new purpose and perspective. To recognize the compelling amidst the hum-drum. They might not be the greatest shots we'll ever take, but we will, in the process, practice awareness and the art of seeing -- which can then spill over into other, more important, aspects of our lives.


  1. Well Said Mark!

    I have noticed that lately that I say this a lot, "that would make good picture" or "I need to get a picture of that".

    Still enjoying your eye for great shots!

  2. I agree. We must learn to recognize the common beauty all around us. I'm always eager to look and see. It's such a cold day today, I couldn't be out for long except to walk to the mailbox with my camera and I found some interesting snow covered seed pods along the way!

  3. Reminds me of the time Sherlock Holmes said to Dr. Watson, "You see, but you do not observe." When Watson did not know there were precisely 17 steps up to their apartment at 221B Baker St, which Watson walked up every day. Good eye Mark.

  4. Totally agree! This year I am finding more and more beauty up close -- in my backyard or close by and not just when I make a trip. The beauty of the bark on trees, moss and lichen, small and delicate flowers and plants, and on and on. Amazing world we live in:)Thanks for the post!


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