Photography Project: Learning to See

Peter and I dove down the photography rabbit hole in 2009 and we are still exploring all the twists and turns. From early days I experimented with creative approaches whether in-camera or with post processing. In 2022, I was staring at a folder with the 44,000 images we had created over the 10+ years and started wondering what other creative techniques can I explore? I tried to reboot last year by focusing on 1-2 projects a month (that lasted 1 month), and then I found myself swept up alternative photography techniques. It started with photo encaustic, morphed into photos with cold wax and oils, then cyanotype printing, followed by photo transfers using a gel plate, photo collage was sprinkled in, and in the meantime I signed up for multiple on-line classes, read many library books, and bought a few I wasn’t able to get any other way. So here I am again in 2023, wanting to share what I’ve discovered. I’m not focusing on providing “how-to” instructions, many others spend years perfecting their skills and techniques, but I will share which resources I found to be the most helpful, which ones I used for the specific technique I’m showcasing, and in the spirit of “research” (aka failures), I will also share my most valiant attempts – the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ll start the year with an easy one – learning to “see” your everyday environment.

This activity comes from the book Creative Photography Lab – 52 Fun Exercises for Developing Self Expression with Your Camera. It involves taking 30 pictures on a 30 minute walk. Technically, you are supposed to stop every minute and shoot something that catches your eye. I just stopped whenever I noticed something. Peter and I walk the same loop around our neighborhood when we want to get some exercise and fresh air. We see the same houses, same streets, same plants each time. This exercise focused on capturing things that I see, but don’t normally pay attention to. It made our 45-minute walk close to an hour. I ended up with 51 images, kept 27, and created a collage with 12. All of these images were made with my iphone and none of them were processed. The goal was not to create wall art, but rather learn to see your environment differently.

What I would do differently: Next time, I think I will set my camera’s aspect ratio to 1:1 or 4:5 and see how that changes my framing and perspective. Another modification would be to choose a theme such as “unseen neighborhood residents” or “man vs. nature”.

I was surprised I had captured so many images, I thought it would be struggle to end up with 30, and some of them I like enough that I may work on a little in post – if only I could find the time……

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