When I first followed my father’s footsteps exploring the hobby of underwater photography, my dad handed me his camera with a macro set up and gave me these instructions: “For this dive, we are not going to cover a lot of territory. See that coral head down below? We are going to spend the entire tank seeing what little critters we can find to photograph.” I replied, in disbelief, “The entire tank (about one hour dive time at that depth), on just that coral head?” I thought my dad had lost his mind! “But, what about seeing the rest of area? We are going to miss so much!”
That was the last time I ever said such a thing. I saw more during that one hour of SCUBA diving than I had ever seen diving before, because I was forced to slow down and really look at details. I saw things I had never noticed before, when I wasn’t shooting photographs, and it changed my perspective of the underwater world from that day forward.
That was the best lesson my father taught me about photography. And, little did he know, it was a lesson that went on to serve me well in life: Slow down and explore; don’t just take things for granted or you might miss something really special. You might even observe a new and amazing feature about something you thought you were familiar with all along!
So, this is the approach I take when I have a camera in my hand. And, even when I don’t, being a photographer has trained me to be more observant about everything I see, and to appreciate things so much more.
Food is a perfect example of how I have learned to really appreciate something that many take for granted. A farmer’s market, especially when I travel, is no longer a pit stop where I grab some fruit snacks on the run or do my grocery shopping; it is an event- a destination. All five senses become engaged while I visually compose photos in my mind, then with my camera.
As a visual person, my strongest sense is sight, and I am drawn to bold colors, shapes, and textures. But, engaging the other four senses makes for a much more enjoyable experience.
Take a basket of strawberries at the farmer’s market, for example. Not only are they a gorgeous shade of red; their scent is intoxicating and their texture fascinating, with all those little seeds! But, what is that I hear being discussed between the farmer and his customer? That’s an interesting twist on a recipe for strawberry sorbet! And, I haven’t even tasted one of those strawberries, yet! But first things first; a tight close-up shot of just three of those delectable strawberries…