Photography has a meditative aspect. When I am walking I see photos and I tune in to what is happening.
Many times you have wondered: “Why my photos do not reflect my gaze?” “Why is the photo not exactly what I have seen?” You feel a mismatch between the photograph you thought you were going to obtain and its final result. A disappointment can come from a lack of sufficient technical knowledge to obtain what you are looking for. In that case you just have to learn, continue researching and know what you need at a technical level to develop your photographic project.
Other times the disappointment is internal, a thought that the image obtained isn’t what you were looking for. A message from emotion. For this second sensation I am going to propose some ideas.
A good photograph, like a good project or a great idea, is born from the direct exploration or reality. The camera is a filtre, a screen that stands between you and the environment. Therefore, observing the world through a camera can take you away from it.
Your actual gaze can be numbed by the vision through the lens, turning it into a filtered gaze. The real look is always richer, full of nuances and physical sensations.
For this reason the photographic gaze, like any other ability, must also be exercised.
Here is my proposal:
1. Leave the camera at home. Take your time to observe the world without filters. To look but also smell, listen and taste.
2. Go outside and be aware of your breathing and your body. Analyze what the environment causes you, observe the people in front of you, watch their movements, their gestures and their tone of voice. Live the present moment and make your gaze navigate and flow. Look closely.
3. Great ideas aren’t plain sight. It’s necessary to explore new ways to find them. If you find yourself having some difficulty training your gaze, sit down calmly and ask yourself these three simple questions:
What do I see here that makes me feel this?
What else can I find right now?
Being aware of the present is key in photography. After this experience, when you pick up your camera again, it will be easier and easier to look, hear, feel and intuit everything you want to appear in your photo.
Diane Arbus. 1963
For example, Diane Arbus felt attraction and fear towards unusual people: people with diversity. Dwarfs, nudisrs or prostitutes were her favorite subjects. She approached them until the photographs of her were direct. They looked directly at the subject without fear managing to convey her concern to the viewer.
With the portrait he she illuminated their shadows, managing to remove the viewer from the inside, placing him in front of his real gaze, without masks. Just what she felt.
Steve McCurry lived in India for a time. His work shows a clean look.
I learned the art of waiting and seeing life. If we wait, people forget that you have a camera and the soul moves until it meets the gaze.
You know, leave your camera at home. Have the courage to explore and discover yous complete and real gaze. That way, you can incorporate your voice and feeling to each of your images. Temporarily get rid the photographic technique and remove the filter. You have the opportunity to discover what makes you vibrate and develop your photographic identity. I would love to know if you have.
It’s in the eyes where the images of our secret agitations are most painted and where they can best be recognized: sight belongs to the soul more than any other organ; it seems as if he ir touching her and participating in all her movements. (…) the gaze receives and reflects at the same time the light of thought and the warmth of feeling: it’s the sense of the spirit and the language of intelligence.
Georges Louis Leclerc, Earl of Buffon. 1788