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!
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.