Dorthea Lange spoke volumes with those few words. As photographers we use our cameras to single out and select moments in time, or details most people walk by, never noticing. We record these moments and show them to an oblivious public. Viewers are forced to notice these details simply by the act of seeing our images.
As photographers we notice the way light reflects off a building facade, or a person’s face. We see those fleeting expressions that speak to our shared humanity.
When I was first entering the world of photojournalism I was fortunate enough to do my internship at the now closed Chattanooga Times. While there I spent many days riding with Billy Weeks. He taught me how to look at the world, and to notice small things. To constantly be looking at things and thinking “If such and such were there it would make a photo”. As you do this more and more often you begin to see great photos all around you.
Too often we walk by a very interesting scene and never “see” it. Photography forces us to open our eyes and see that which we normally pass by in the rush of daily life.
Often, to see a good photo, all one has to do is be still, listen and observe. If you do this suddenly you begin to see all kinds of neat things going on in the world around you. You see the way a leaf lies on the rocks, contrasting with the cold stone, or the way the reflection of a person and a street scape in a water puddle make an interesting composition. To see the special way people interact, that fleeting smile, glance or kiss. Think of Alfred Eisenstaedt ‘s photo of the kiss that celebrated VJ day. An iconic image of joy if ever there was one. A fleeting moment many would have walked by and never seen, but because he caught it on film it is now part of our shared memories.
By seeing these things and recording them to show to others we are opening the eyes of people who, in their normal rush to work, never notice them. We help people who rush by the unseen beauty of the world remember that beauty is there for the seeing.
We show that one does not have to go to exotic places to see exotic things.
Next time you use your camera remember that you are showing the world how to see. How to stop, relax and to notice the unseen world that is life.