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Connect with the scene

Created date

June 5th, 2015
wheel photo
wheel photo

I recently read blogs by two photographers I’ve never met, Justin Donie and John Davenport. I was impressed by what they had to say about taking photographs. Neither spoke about the technical side of photography—the equipment and software—but rather about the emotional and expressive parts.

I’ve long felt that making a “connection with the scene” is more important in photography than the tools we use. It’s important to recognize the value of an emotive application above craftsmanship. (I am referring mostly to landscape and nature and fine-art photography. It’s obvious that a connection is required with the subject in portraiture.) 

Davenport suggests some techniques to try: putting down the camera and looking closely at the scene, meditating first to clear your mind, and talking it through by describing out loud what it is that you see. 

Donie speaks eloquently about putting yourself in touch with the thoughts or feelings you are trying to explore and express photographically—immersing oneself in the scene.

The emotional component

I concur with these viewpoints. The camera and associated accessories as well as the computer software we use to optimize photos are, in my opinion, secondary to the need to connect with the scene emotionally. 

Once you set the camera functions, forget about them. I try different techniques to connect with the scene. I sometimes look at the scene with my naked eyes and pre-visualize the scene. I use a camera with a viewfinder because the moment I put my eye to it I block out everything except the picture I see through the lens. 

Let yourself feel that framing the scene a certain way is right. When you post-process the image, allow your emotions to guide you. Experiment. Try to enhance the photo in a different way—perhaps by cropping or compositing multiple images. Take risks. Put more of your soul into making the photograph. Connect with the scene.