Yesterday, I took the scenic route back to my parking spot. I was just running a normal errand and had my one-year-old in my arms. Sure, we accidentally parked a little too far away initially, but that had nothing to do with the scenic route. The mood, history, and culture of downtown Temple, Texas inspired us to take a slightly less direct path back to the car…just for the beauty of the moment. I was less concerned with taking photos than I was with enjoying a few extra minutes of the day. What I received was more enjoyable and eye opening than I expected.
The “Learning to See” in the title is a reference to Chris Marquardt’s Learning to See Workshops. Not that I have been to a workshop, but I have listened to his Tips from the Top Floor podcast quite a bit, and really appreciate his approach to photography. I could not agree more with his website byline: “learn to see”. How we experience life, what we notice, and the learned ability to switch perspective are key ingredients to the quality of photography we produce. I learned a lesson in learning to see on that scenic walk back to the car.
If you want to learn to see, learn to notice things others do not, or learn to be fully present in every life experience even if you have experienced it a hundred times before, I highly suggest having children…or at least babysit someone else’s and go out for a walk. My little girl noticed some really amazing things. I have a few more years of experiencing the world than my daughter, and my brain has automatically installed filters for what is interesting and not, what is worth noticing and not, and what is worth processing and sending over to the “check this out” department of my brain.
Among many other things, she pointed at a ribbon nailed to a power pole (telephone line pole), the change of color in the concrete, how water made the bottom of the fountain look shallow (she thought she could touch the bottom with her feet), and a park bench, which we enjoyed for a good ten minutes. I think we would do well to try to remove our filters and see everything new. We will notice so much more and our photography will draw attention to subjects which those around us have neglected.
Really what I am talking about is a form of spontaneity. I am not saying we should flippantly photograph everything, but rather that we should not regulate our schedules and thinking so much that we cannot experience the moment fully. More clearly stated, we need to intentionally stop, be at peace, and take in the moment, whether that is putting our feet in the fountain, relaxing on a sidewalk bench, or taking the scenic route around the block back to the car.