This page may contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
A few years ago I did a creative photography course. Despite forgetting half the technical stuff, I still enjoy taking photographs but the most valuable thing I took away from that course was a new way of seeing my world.
Of course taking photographs when you’re somewhere amazing is satisfying and likely to provide good results, but it’s the photographs in the places you see everyday that can make a small but significant adjustment to your mindset.
You can walk down a scruffy street on an overcast day and it can easily add to your over-cast mood. Walk down that same street with your camera, trying to find things to take photographs of, makes you see the street in a whole new way. You are searching for interest and beauty. I guarantee you will find it – no matter where you are. A colourful sweet wrapper in a pile of rotting leaves, a disintegrating metal gate, gnarled and chipped in interesting ways, a lone wildflower in a derelict wasteland. It may be rubbish or decay but it can still be beautiful.
The best part is, that when you photograph regularly, you find that you can’t help have your photographers head on at other times. Staring out of your train on your commute to work, at something you’ve stared at 100 times before, you may see it differently. You notice the messy old scrap yard which now looks like a sea of texture and colour. Even the familiar station itself, the grand, old iron work you’d never noticed before, an interesting bunch of people you normally just stare right through.
It’s a great thing to develop (no pun intended), even if you never take any photographs. It isn’t about seeing beauty in the world, in a fluffy, let’s all hug each other way, it is actually a very practical way of flipping your thinking. You’re not focussing inwardly, on your troubles and woes. You are looking out. You are aware. You look past the blur and the familiar. You see more.
Give it a go. It could be handy if you start with an actual camera – makes it easier to get the idea of zoning in on certain things. It doesn’t matter what the camera is though – a fancy SLR, a compact camera, an old vintage film camera or even your phone. Take a couple of hours and wander nearby streets, somewhere familiar to you or even somewhere you specifically don’t like i.e an old abandoned building or wasteland that decays more with every year it’s left neglected.
Once you start to put this concept to work, it’s great to to flip into when you’re out and about in the world. It can be particularly useful when you are bored and can certainly make walking the streets a refreshing and even inspiring experience. Flip to ‘through the lens’ thinking and that walk to post a letter can open you up to a whole different world right on your doorstep.