Friday, March 27, 2015

Sensory Perceptions and Photography

by Dotti

As I walked out my front door the other morning to get the morning paper, 
I was greeted by a cacophony of birdsong.
It was beautiful!
As I listened, I realized that to experience the glories of spring 
was to experience sensory overload.

The same could be said of photography.


Obviously, the first sense that we use in photography is our sight. Makes sense since photography is a visual practice and a visual art. But there is so much more stimuli involved in our photography if we just pause to become more aware.


All of us, I’m sure have walked through the sand dunes toward the ocean and long before we can even see the water, our ears hear the sound of the waves as they race one another to the shore. Now we’re on alert as our eyes seek to follow the sounds we’ve just heard, telling us that the shimmering ocean waters await us and the camera we hold in our hands. Our pulse quickens, perhaps our steps quicken as well.


All of us have done some cooking and baking in our lifetimes and most, if not all of us, have at one time or another stopped to take photos of our food prep. But as we are preparing our treats, we surely smell the aromas coming from the fruit and veggies as we chop, or the cookies as they bake, or the wine before we take a sip.

There are so many other smells around us, too. Soon we’ll smell the sweet spring lilacs, the flower fragrances in the garden, the earth as we prepare the flower beds. Or the sea air as we approach the seaside. The list is endless.


Food preparation aside, how many of our other normal everyday activities are centered around eating? A lot! When the weather warms, I take my granddaughter to get ice cream or frozen yogurt at least once every week or two for an after school snack. Out comes the iPhone and I sneak a photo as we eat our treats.

Or perhaps on a rainy day photo shoot we lift our face to the raindrops that are falling on our heads and catch some of the drops in our mouths, tasting of the wetness of the rain. Yes, taste is part of the experience as well.


This may be seem to be the most elusive of all but I suspect that once we stop and think about it, we’ll realize what an integral part touch plays in our photography. At the most elemental level, we have to touch our cameras in order to take photos. But how often do our subjects involve touching? Have you ever taken a family photo where the family wasn’t touching and embracing one another? Of course not! 

And what about those beautiful flowers we all love to photograph? I don’t know about you, but every time I photograph a rose, I touch it as well, usually in the process of seeking to smell the fragrance. [See above.]

Where did all this thinking take me?

Glad you asked!  The more I thought about photography and the senses, the more I realized that if we would be more mindful of all our sensory perceptions as we went about our practice of photography, we would likely become more intentional and contemplative photographers, looking just a bit deeper into the process. And I believe as we perfect this part of our photography, we’ll inch ever closer to what really matters in our photography: identifying what we feel in our hearts and our souls and how to translate it through our photos. And we will ultimately find more joy in our endeavors.

So what are you waiting for? Go. Seek the joy. I'll be right behind you.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why Do I Do This??

by Judy

photo courtesy of Leigh Love

Every two weeks. Just every other Thursday.  Only twice a month.  That's my schedule for posting here at Focusing On Life. That's very doable.  However, it seems that more times than not, I am struggling to figure out what to write about.

As my turn approaches I lament that I don't have any ideas for my post.  I have no photos to use for my post. Nothing is coming to me.  What am I going to do?  As I verbalize these worries I've had people -  loved ones who will remain unnamed -  ask me, 'why do you do this?  This blog is not something that you have to do...if it's too much for you, then just quit.' Just quit?? Why don't I just quit?

Well, first and foremost, I don't quit because I love this group.  We call each other sisters, and that is truly how we feel about each other.  Each of us is different, and we bring different perspectives to this blog, and I think that makes this little place on the world wide web just that much more special. I can't imagine not being a part of this group - I would miss everyone here so much, and that includes all of you who visit us each day, supporting us with your comments.  We have a great community of people here.  

Why do I do this? Writing these posts is a challenge, and a wonderful challenge. (Although when it's crunch time and still no post idea has come together, that doesn't feel so wonderful.) However, if everything came easily in life, then how would we grow?  Being challenged makes me work harder. Not only do I want to write a post that appeals to many of you, I want to write a post that my FOL sisters will feel is 'good enough.' 

Why do I do this?  I do this because in 'my other life' I am a very left-brained person.  I deal with numbers and analysis, and lists and lists of things.  Boy am I good at lists, but that's for a whole other post.  When I write here I get to use the right side of my brain.  I get to be creative.  I get to use my imagination and intuition.  I get to lose myself in a photo shoot, looking for just the right shot to accompany my post.  Ahhh, yes, writing here is almost like a little vacation for my numbers/policies/procedures brain.  

Isn't it funny that there are things in our lives that come easily to us, that we perform on auto-pilot, and then there's these things that we struggle with, but that fulfill us in a way that makes us not want to give them up?  That fulfillment is what makes us push through the discomfort and the insecurity and just do it. 

I truly feel that my time here is an invaluable tool in my personal creative journey. Without my twice a month posting schedule, I could easily push writing aside. I could easily wait for the perfect weather to shoot some photos. I could easily use my time to clean a closet, or run to get groceries. Instead, my twice a month posting schedule keeps my camera in my hands, looking for just the right photo for the blog. My twice a month posting schedule keeps me thinking the rest of the month, searching my surroundings for ideas, copying quotations that I love that may work for a future post, reading articles on art and photo tips, and visiting museums and spending time with other creatives.  

What do you do, every day, or maybe every week, that doesn't necessarily come easily to you, but that you love to do?  What do you do that takes you out of your comfort zone, but that once you're there, you realize that it's exactly where you need to be

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday Focus On You

by Judy

What a pleasure it is to scroll through all of the member photos in our Focusing on Life flickr stream! There are so many wonderful photos to choose from, and one of the reasons why we started our new feature, Wednesday Focus on You.  

Different from our weekly Focus on You posts, where we choose a photo from our flickr stream that 
we think best depicts our monthly theme, our Wednesday Focus on You posts feature a photo from our flickr group that has nothing to do with our monthly theme.  We choose it just because we love it!

I chose this photo of Margie O'Hara's because I loved the soft, almost vintage feel to the photo.  I also love the way Margie composed this photo - with the roses not in a vase, but dropped ever so gently on the table.  And I have to admit, another reason I chose this photo was Margie's description of her photo.  She commented that it was the first day of spring and they had early dismissal from school because of snow, and she bought these flowers to celebrate spring!  (We too had early dismissal because of snow on the first day of spring, and I bought flowers to brighten my home and celebrate spring that day too!)

Thank you Margie for sharing your work with us.  We always love seeing your photos! You can see more of Margie's beautiful photos on flickr

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