Seeing Without a Camera

Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts
Walker Evans

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.
Dorothea Lange

Using two quotes today that resonate at the same level.  Being a photographer as well as a writer has imbued me with a different sense.

Let’s take photography to start with:
I don’t look at the world the same way other people see it.  Like Dorothea Lange, my eye is constantly scanning the environment I’m in, always looking for that next image to record.  Ms Lange is correct, the camera HAS taught me to see the world as if I’m always carrying my camera.

Let me ask other photographers who are reading this column today:
When riding in a car as a passenger, or driving YOURSELF, do you find that you’re constantly scanning the surroundings as they pass by and feel an overriding impulse to pull your car over EVERY time you see that no one else sees?

I do!

It can be quite disconcerting to someone who is NOT a photographer.  It can be quite disconcerting to someone who IS a photographer as well.  I see the world as I said above, differently now.

From a spiritual perspective, I see EVERYTHING as a gift from the divine and in relation to that as a photographer my perpetual pursuit is capturing the divine with my camera.  As I wrote last Monday with my column called Divine Light sometimes I’m fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to receive the gift that is given.  When it happens, I feel truly blessed.

I’ve had the advantage of seeing many amazing scenes in my life.  Sometimes I’ve had my camera within reach other times I haven’t.  I can give one specific example and I’ll end this column with a photo from the experience.

In 2004 I was driving home from visiting my grandmother in the early evening.  Suddenly as I was about five minutes from our town beach in Madison, Connecticut, I gazed up at the sky and I’ve NEVER seen the sky turn this color so fast.  I raced to the town beach, and when I parked, I reached behind me in the backseat to grab my camera which is ALWAYS there when I’m in my car.

Running down to the water I started focusing on the sky and began shooting.  Not knowing whether I was getting the shots I wanted, I just continued shooting.  The sky and water seemed to be cooperating but I wouldn’t know until I arrived home.  I spent about twenty minutes at the beach.

Arriving home with a burst of energy, I took the CF card out of my camera and put into my card reader.  This is what I saw:

Once again, I was blessed to be in the right place at the right time.  If you’d like to see the other photos from that evening, they are on my website:
Madison, Connecticut Surf Club Sunsets

All the images are pretty much from the same perspective, however I wanted to give people a choice if they were interested in purchasing.

On a side note:
A few days later I printed up the two photos I wanted to frame and mat.  I brought them downtown to my framer and a moment later I looked up and another photographer I knew in passing walked in and laid down three photos himself.  We looked at the photos, then looked at each other and laughed out loud.  You couldn’t tell whose photos were whose, except for the fact that mine were 11×14 and his were 8×10.

The business owner looked at us and realized that we weren’t together.  Upon recognizing this, he said:
You guys were taking pictures in the EXACT same location and didn’t know?  C’MON!  How can that be?

It was true!  We both knew each other in passing.  We both knew we were photographers, but we had no clue we were in the same place on the same beach.  We MUST have passed each other several times that evening but we were so enthralled by the scenes in front of us that we simply didn’t see anything but what is in our camera’s viewfinders.  We were in the flow.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.



6 responses to “Seeing Without a Camera

  1. copper I like it! Thanks Chris for keepin on with what you are doing.

  2. Really enjoyed reading this.. I recognized and understand all your thought in the post lol. Being in the flow or zone is so peaceful that you are truly at one with the world your shooting.
    My wife and I are always seeing images we want to shoot!!!

  3. I would love to carry my camera with me all the time. There is so much that I see! Where would I store the tons of photos..LOL!

  4. it is photographs like these that truly demonstrate the wonders that photography can bring. Not only were you gifted with such a beautiful sight, you were able to capture it forever.

  5. A photographer’s eye is a true gift and a skill – you clearly have it! Keep celebrating the gift and honing the skill! The pictures are so beautiful, I would bet that God is on your side…. 😉

  6. The more I’ve become aware of God all around, in and throughout both the mundane and grand things of life (and is there ever really a difference between the two?) the more I’ve found myself obsessed with my camera! Not quite a photographer like you, but definitely an amateur one, I try to capture those things that strike me…and a lot of things strike me! lol So some people get annoyed when they are with me because I am constantly stopping and taking notice. But it’s amazing also, at all the things people sometimes miss out on and are surprised when I point out to them. A bird’s song they did not hear, a caterpillar hanging on bending stem, so many beautiful things in this world! Loved your photos 🙂

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