Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Searching for a Picture: How a Camera in Your Hands Can Improve Your Vision*

“If you change the way you look at things,
the things you look at change.”
 – Wayne Dyer
Years ago I realized that the best thing about carrying a camera is that it helps me see the world as a series of zoomed-in, artfully-framed images. There’s something about that device in my pocket, with all its lens settings and editing tools and pixel-power, that keeps nagging at me. It keeps asking, “Now what do you see? What’s out there that’s amazing? … that’s beautiful?”  So instead of just walking along passively spaced out, I’m studying the landscape, squinting at the high branches of trees and peering into the corners of gardens and shorelines. I’m on a quest to discover soon-to-evaporate tableaus or strange objects or flowers or critters or fellow humans that deserve to be captured, immortalized and shared.

This backyard visitor was captured
while I was having my morning coffee!
These days, with the high-quality cameras built into our phones, it’s no longer necessary to carry a camera. We’re all just an app-tap and a swipe away from transforming ourselves into photographers. So there’s no reason we all can’t fully engage the beauty around us. Somehow, almost magically, this searching mindset leads to a whole lot of finding. It vastly improves my vision and helps me inhabit a place of “Wow! Did you see that?” And ultimately it allows me to assemble the visual evidence that the world is, after all, an amazing and beautiful place.
Below are some examples of scenes that I might have simply walked passed and ignored if I hadn’t been carrying my trusty little camera. My camera-consciousness pushed me to zoom in and discover something wonderful buried in that wide shot.
I hope these inspire you to use your camera to improve your own vision. (Click on any of the images to display full size in another window.)

A jumble of plants, a neighbor’s fence & a stucco wall?
Or a beautiful flower?

Pelicans, power lines & apartment buildings?
Or a dynamic diving bird?

A dusty path? Or eye-popping daisies?

A homeless person’s camp near a drainage channel?
Or an amazing piece of folk art?

A trash-catching barrier across a flood control channel?
Or a flock of cormorants sunning themselves? (What do you see?)

Bonus: Some of My Favorite Photos

Check out these online, Google Photos collections of some of my favorite images. These were all inspired by travelling with a camera in my pocket. My challenge to you: What might you capture in your world by amping up your own “camera consciousness?” 

Ballona Creek & Marina del Rey Area Bike Path

Other Favorites

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* Links marked with an asterisk (*) are subject to change. If you can't find the post you're looking for, email me at or try a Google search. Sorry for any inconvenience!