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Paying attention through photography
I just read a great blog article on the NPR website entitled "Noticing: How To Take A Walk In The Woods." The author, Adam Frank, is encouraging folks to slow down, pay attention and take a walk in the woods. I am reminded of a talk I heard Sam Abell, the great National Geographic Photographer, give at the Santa Fe Workshops in 2006. Sam mentioned that one of the great things about photography is that it forces you to slow down and pay attention. When I heard that it just made sense to me. I love taking my camera with me for long walks in the woods. When I am in a photographic mindset, I take it all in...I am a sponge for my surroundings. If I were hiking in the woods strictly for exercise or to get from point A to point B, then maybe I'd be better off leaving my camera at home, because it surely does cause me to slow down at times. I would argue though, that opening myself up to my environment and trying to soak it all in is exactly what I need and exactly why I bring my camera.
Those that have traveled with me could speak to the frustration of having to wait for me as I step onto some side street to capture an image of something that caught my attention. I often find that my best images aren't taken at the iconic locations. It's the small, intimate scenes off the beaten path that are much more compelling imagery to my eye. If I didn't slow down and pay attention, I would never notice these scenes. Photography is what forces me to pay attention. But, I do think it's important to not just see your world through the viewfinder or the LCD panel on the back of your camera. If that is your world view, then you will miss a tremendous amount. Better to be completely aware of your surroundings in 360 degrees so that you see all the images that are present and waiting to be captured. This weekend it appears we will finally get some springlike weather here in Minnesota. I'm hoping to get out for a walk in the woods, with my camera in hand.
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