The Art of Seeing

I think, we will agree that the most important quality in a photographer is the ability to see interesting subjects. I would like to recommend a book named: "Photography and the Art of Seeing" by Freeman Patterson. I got it when I entered the local library in a day I was bored of walking around with my camera and I could find nothing I considered interesting to shoot. In this blog, I will explain what I think are the most important lessons that I learned. Don't expect the results to be good for stock -at least in the beginning. In the long run, the results will impact not only your stock photography but also the way how you have fun with photography.

We are usually very influenced by all the rules of photography and composition. As a result, we discard many interesting subjects because they do not fit our preconceptions. It is a good thing to be sapient about design and photography. However, sometimes the pressure to get the shot or to achieve certain outcome inhibit the ability to see differently. As a first step, we need to be relaxed when we practice these techniques. Generally, when we judge the first impact on a photo we consider how unique is the view of the artist compared to our own. In addition, our brain is prepared to simplify so we label most things in a word. That process make us forget the details, the texture, the reflections, etc. Having this basic knowledge is the base for breaking away from our preconceptions.

© Yelo34

The first exercise I did was to make a list of all the rules photographic rules and broke away from them. I must confess that 95 percent of the shots were a disaster but I got like five that presented an interesting outcome. The list can go like this: keep your camera steady, focus on your subject, have a proper exposure, etc. I consciously broke every one and more than one time! In addition, I practiced the lucky factor: I went to the mall and while walking I set the timer to see what I got. This may sound crazy and even when I read it I don't believe I did it. But believe me, I quite enjoyed it and I saw quite different point of views of those I was accustomed hence improving my perception. I didn't discard any of the photos for a while and then analyzed them. I noted what I liked and what I didn't on every one even if it was a disaster. Then and only then, I discarded it.

© Yelo34

The second exercise was to capture aspects of your daily routine. So I chose my bed as a reference and forced myself to take 20 shots of the things I could see from there. After the five first obvious shots, you must think, change angles, or tools in order to get at least a decent result. Third exercise was to use my camera at the level of our dog and I could approximately saw his perspective of our house. Then it came the turn to ask my family members to give me an object of their choosing and take 20 pictures of it. Here I used different lightning set ups and concepts to make different photos of the same object. And so it went...It was really fun!

I do not want you to get a false impression from the book. Apart from all of these exercises, you can also find fantastic theory about design, composition and photography but I don't want to go there. I prefer to let you know what a fun learning experience it was. In addition, I think it will impact my photography from now on.

Photo credits: Manuel Machado.

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March 26, 2013


Sounds very interesting. Thanks will take a look at this.

March 26, 2013


Good use of an excellent book.

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