barbell with weights at CrossFit gym

Seeing what we ignore

As a photographer a great deal of time should be constantly spent training the eye and mind to see things that others ignore and pass by without a thought. A quote from Scott Berkun’s Mindfire illustrates the challenge in this very well:

For most knowledge-worker types, life is an abstraction. We move things around we can’t hold in our hands, and we get paid for doing dull things for dull people we never meet and never know.

The challenge as an adult, once you’ve found your way and settled down, is to undo indifference. That’s where happiness is: in paying attention in the ways we did when things were new, and we were young enough not to judge. We all have that voice in our heads that whispers, “This is cool” or “This is different” or even “Wait—what is this? Let’s see,” but it’s pounded into submission by the stodgy, stronger, rational adult voice we’ve used to get the external things we covet so dearly.

Unfortunately it is all too easy to forget to look around with an open mind and let ourselves experience childish joy in discovering new things or seeing things in a new way. As a photographer who is always looking to improve my vision and storytelling, undoing indifference and slowing down is something I need to do much more often.

In fact, I’ve found that lately picking up the camera is in many ways too much of a chore. Much of it is because I feel that so many of the photographs I currently take are just new versions of the same old. I really need to challenge myself bye slowing down and thinking of new perspectives.

1 thought on “Seeing what we ignore

  1. Ramin, jon. I don’t think I tell you often enough how much I admire the way you write. I loved the phrase above “to undo indifference”. I also need to focus more on losing feelings of indifference. I need to become more active in trying to do things I avoid but want to do, for example, writing your Granny’s life story. Since I find writing difficult, it’s easy to put it off. Thanks for nudging me…

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