Monday, May 27, 2013

Making Sense

by Carol A.

I have been reading a lot lately about mindfulness and positivity as it relates to creativity and inspiration. I am continually struck by how our five senses contribute to the mindfulness that precedes our personal photographic visions. Although I have had an interest in photography for as long as I can remember, the impetus that really got my current passion going about 5 years ago was hearing a lecture about how the eye "reads" an image. I was struck by the similarities to how the ear hears a sound.

As you may know, by profession, I am an audiologist. Fitting a hearing aid on someone is a process. It takes time. That is because, once I get the aid on a patient, it is really their brain I am dealing with, not their ears. As I bring back in sounds that they haven't heard correctly for years, their brain has to figure out how to handle them. Opthamologists frequently fit one distance and one close contact lens and their patient’s  vision accommodates quickly. So it is with the ears. That’s because your fight or flight defenses will focus on any stimulus that is new. Your brain zooms in and makes you pay attention so that you can decide if the new happening is a threat to your well-being. While papers crinkling and water running may initially be too prominent, if I can encourage my patient to persist with wearing the hearing aid, those sounds  will eventually go back into the background where they belong. As soon as your brain has heard them frequently enough, they are old news – and it no longer pays attention.

I feel that training our photographic eye is a very similar process. If we force ourselves to look at light and composition over and over, I believe it becomes second nature to see it. It’s a miracle that I arrive at work each morning, since I am composing pictures in my mind all the way there! I believe that’s one aspect of the progress we make as we study photography. Our images get better because it becomes second–nature to see more. Certainly the picture-a-day exercises have done and continue to do this for me.

I will be writing more about this from time to time as I intend to explore all the senses and their relationship to my photography. I’m coming across loads on interesting materials to study. For now, I encourage you to be IN the moment, to treasure and respect all of your senses as you move through the world, and to open them up to contribute to your art!  And always, enjoy your journey!

"See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me."
                        Lyric, The Who

( PS - We at FOL want to send our love and prayers to Kim Klassen, who has been a huge inspiration to us. Wishing you and your family the best of outcomes, Kim, and sending you our sincere support.)


Linda said...

A very interesting post, Carol! I have never thought of seeing in this way but it certainly makes sense! Practice, practice, practice!

heyjudephotography said...

Beautiful images Carol. And what an interesting post. I found it funny when you said it's a miracle that you make it to work each day because you're composing photos in your mind as you travel there! I do the same thing - all the time. And I love it! I love that my mind is always seeing a photograph, since that is my love. And in the process it is not only making us better at what we do, it's allowing us to enjoy all of the little nuances of the day - light and shadow, and the every day lovely things out there. Can't wait to hear more from your research!

CarolHart said...

Thank you for sharing your perspective on the relationship between what we hear and what we see. It's interesting that someone with a new hearing aide must work to put every day sounds into the background. By contrast, we as photographers must work to keep the sights of light and shadow in the foreground. I look forward to more of your posts on this subject.

Carol said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement! My mind works in mysterious ways - and I never quite know how people will react to my personal weirdness! But I'm a big believer that you must follow your heart and your inspiration wherever you find it!

terriporter said...

Love this post, Carol! One of the things I love about photography is the way it heightens your senses and makes you really notice things. I think we all do that "composing images while we drive" thing. I sometimes wish I had a camera embedded in my eye so I could just blink and shoot! And you're so right, it's lots of practice that makes it possible for us to shoot without having to think about it so much. And thanks for sharing the info about your job -- I found it so interesting!

AFishGirl said...

Close to my heart, this post. I got my hearing aids a year and a half ago. The fridge! Water running in the sink! A hundred sounds that had been subtle and muted for years, suddenly there full blast. It did take a while but I persisted and I love them so much. All those lovely sounds I'd been missing. It did remind me a lot of photography and the early journey and the amazing eureka of seeing things in new ways. The mind, what we take in, creating, all fascinating subjects. On that topic, I am reading "Just One Thing," a book about mindfulness training. It's great. It's one topic per week. Okay, over and out and thanks for this topic!

Dotti said...

Great post! As another hearing challenged person, I totally get it. I also compose photos in my minds' eye as I drive and travel.

Deanna said...

Beautiful post, Carol. When my husband first got his hearing aids it brought tears to my eyes that he could actually hear things that were part of my daily life, but not to his. And thank you for sharing your comparison of learning to live with daily sounds and our living with our daily thoughts and perceptions of photography.

Kim Stevens said...

Lol, like Judy I chuckled at the "it's a miracle I make it to work" comment. We will be driving along and I'll just start saying click, click, click. I make beautiful images in my mind!! haha

Love this post Carol, and yes it is about training our whole selves to be "in tune". When I first started making jewelry with precious metal clay, my eyes started seeing textures everywhere I never noticed them, and my hands became much more about touching. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on this some more. I just finished my post and am reading this for the first time. I'm touching on inspiration, but with a different twist... ;)

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