Photography Changes the Way You See

The act of photographing has taught me to see the world in a different way.

There’s a concept in Hindu philosophy called the “Maya”. The Maya is like a veil that exists between us and reality. This veil represents an illusion that causes us to be ignorant to ourselves and the world. By taking photographs, you gradually begin to lift that veil.

Beginning

When I first started to take pictures, I used to rush to pull out my camera and begin taking pictures. I observed my surroundings and began to appreciate the smaller details of things. I took pictures of simple subjects like dew droplets on leaves, and flower petals.

Eventually, I learned that a better way to photograph, is to begin by observing the environment. To do this, I don’t immediately pull out the camera, instead I:

  1. Feel the temperature of the air. (Warm / Cool)
  2. Observe the quality of the light. (Diffused / Harsh)
  3. Identify patterns and geometry. (Chaotic, Ordered, Sharp)
  4. Look at the textures, materials and their characteristics. (Rocky, Wet, Plastic, Dry, Natural, Smooth Ect.)

Once I take the time I need to gain an understanding of the environment, I naturally begin to take better photos. The images begin to more accurately convey the feelings I felt in the scene.

Mindfulness

The act of dedicating moments for observation applies to everyday life as well. Sometimes when somebody asks you a question, it’s healthy to think for a moment before immediately answering. When faced with a decision or an upcoming project, I find it helpful to take a moment to observe and assess what’s going on.

Photography, in this sense, has taught me to step outside of my thoughts. I’ve essentially achieved through photographing what people seek through meditation.

Exploration

As my pursuit of photography heightened, so did my desire to explore the world. Before I took pictures, I believed that the my home state, Massachusetts, was boring. Now I view it as a beautiful and mysterious place filled with secrets to discover.

Today, there’s very few places that I find boring. Every location from alleyways, to a patch of ferns in the forest, is a new and exciting discovery. The search for new places within my area has brought me to abandoned buildings and secret caves.

secret cave entrance
pulled over to photograph a distant quarry

Connections

Portrait photography has enabled to me to connect with people in a new way. For me, a typical day with a friend involves going out to explore and take pictures. In each picture, I find myself connecting with people in a new way. Capturing portraits of people has enhanced my emotional intelligence, and ability to understand others.

Reflection

I try not to take pictures because I’m afraid of forgetting a memory. If I did that, then it would mean the picture was taken out of a fear. Looking back at a good image can bring me right back to the moment when I took it, but this only works if the image was taken from a place of fascination, rather then fear.

Taking photographs is a fun way to archive things, but I believe that capturing too many is effectively replacing our ability to remember. We grow to rely on the pictures to remember the beautiful places we’ve visited. Sure our memory isn’t photographic, however I still believe that we should be take the time to absorb a scene into our memory, before we immediately start photographing it.



These days, when I take photos, I focus on the emotion and energy of an image. Sometimes I follow the rules of traditional composition, and sometimes I don’t. It’s a free form process that just happens.

I recommend to my friends that they take up photography as a hobby. It teaches you so much more then how to take good pictures. Photography helped me discover myself, and how to see the world for what it truly is.

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