Thoughts on the “photographic eye”
Perhaps you already know my thoughts on “talent”. If not, read this post here. In short: I believe that talent is a lazy, misleading and even false concept – and that the only thing that truly counts is hard work.
The same can be applied to photography. Just as anyone can learn how to use the dials and knobs on a camera, anyone can learn to have an “eye” for photography.
Obtaining the “photographic eye”, once again, is not a matter of talent, but of practice and training.
You see, I always loved pretty and shiny things. Even as a toddler I loved my illustrated children’s books, clean sea shells, shining marbles and doll’s dresses. Growing up I loved “painting” with colours (or rather making a mess. I was – and still am – the most impatient and messy girl – no artist’s disposition here). As a young teenager I was convinced I would become a fashion designer and with 17 I wrote one of the first fashion blogs online. I deleted it after two years when I realised I didn’t give one actual f* about fashion and the blog didn’t know what exactly it wanted to be anymore. I still love pretty clothes. I swoon over colourful summer dresses and I always “need “new nice shoes, but I couldn’t care less about keeping up with current it-pieces and must-haves.
Now I still love my summer dresses and heels, have given up on “painting”, buy books solely judging them by its cover, dream of French country style antique furniture for a future three bedroom house (don’t judge me!) and most importantly: I take pretty pictures.
I take pretty pictures, because ever since I became aware of myself, I conditioned myself to distinguish pretty from not-pretty. Not excluding errors of course. Learning to separate the pretty from the ugly is risky business! How often did I – as a teenager – leave the house thinking my extravagantly tacky skirt was nothing but beautiful? There is a very thin line between stunningly beautiful and horrendous. (Just remember Bjork’s swan dress). However, I believe that’s exactly how I trained my “eye” for photography. I think everybody who truly values beauty can develop an “eye” for it. It is a skill learned by practice. The rest is a matter of taste.
Isn’t that a bit uninspiring – shallow even, you may ask? Not at all, in my opinion. Valuing beauty doesn’t mean to dismiss everything that doesn’t shine and sparkle. A photographic eye that has learned to distinguish the beautiful from the ugly, has also learned to find beauty in hidden places.
Valuing beauty means to find beauty where nobody else is looking for it.
As a photographer, I try to stop where others keep walking. I have learned to walk through the world with an open eye – my “photographic eye” – and I believe that everybody could open their eyes to all the beautiful things in the world as well, if they just cared enough to do so.