Do You See What I See?

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has very little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

~Elliot Erwitt

So, to answer the question I posed in the headline:  No, you don’t see what I see. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Take this photo, for example:

I made this photograph on a very busy street in Rome. People were everywhere, yet, I captured what is unquestionably a solitary moment. I remember making this photo. I noticed the little girl was lagging behind her family. I loved the color of her dress and hair, and how she had the confidence (or was this was an act of defiance?) to do her own thing–even on a busy street.

This photograph says as much (if not more) about me, the photographer, as it does about the subject. This particular moment caught my eye because of who I am. It wouldn’t surprise me to know that other people, on that same busy street, noticed things that I missed completely. Lighting, exposure, composition and focal length, are all important.  But it is the intangibles, at least in my opinion, that matter the most when it comes to “making” (not “taking”) good photos.

Recently, I’ve heard a few people lament that if they had a “better” lens they could take really good photographs. Um, no. The quality of the lens (and other equipment) only comes into play after you have developed an eye, and learned how to express a perspective.

Writers have access to all of the same words in the dictionary. Yet there is little debate that those words take on the distinct tone of the person using them.  The same is true of a photographer. You can put five of us in an identical setting and you will get five unique visual interpretations. Well, that’s true if you have five people who know how to “make” and not “take” photos.

All of this has been on my mind lately because I am working on claiming, honing, and honoring my photographic voice. As with all things that are viewed subjectively, it is sometimes difficult to have absolute confidence in this voice, but I am getting there.

I am a photographer–hear me roar! (how was that?)

By the way, I have a new website dedicated to my work, you can view it here.

Photo: ©TheWorldAccordingtoJennifer

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7 responses

  1. Absolutely agree and I wish I could make rather than take photos. The one above is art (really like it) while mine are basically visual recordings of a single second in time. Great for jogging my memory, but not so great at capturing the interest or attention of anyone else who doesn’t have a distinct interest in my particular subject. I just don’t have a good eye through the lens, though I recognize really good shots when I see them. I guess that works well as a big part of my job involves working with food stylists and photographers to capture shots for ads, brochures, etc.

    • You have to have a good eye to do that type of work. Maybe you just haven’t found the subject that brings out the best of your photographic skills? Or maybe, you are meant to enjoy and critique the photos other people take/make and use your photography to trigger memories. Nothing wrong with that. Thanks for chiming in.

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