Learning to see

My parents tell me that since I was young, I had a “good eye.” Around age two or three my dad would push me in the stroller while walking our dog and I would point out aluminum cans discarded off the side of the street. I guess it’s turned into something of a nickname or a family phrase, “good eye Ingrid.” Come to think of it, I’ve usually been the one to first spot wildlife while going on hikes or simply driving with my family. I remember when we went to visit my aunt a long time ago, we were driving through the everglades and I spotted an alligator off the side of the road, quite near to us. I don’t think my parents believed me until they saw it for themselves.

In middle school I was gifted a camera from my aunt, and I took great pleasure in using it however I liked. By high school I received a nicer digital camera from my parents and continued to take photos pretty consistently (something I need to get back into the habit of). I became very interested in street photography. I read all about Henri Cartier-Bresson and looked at countless photography book by him, Robert Frank, Vivian Maier, and David Plowden. I was really fascinated by Cartier-Bresson and Maier because they truly mastered the candid photograph. They were able to take photographs at just the right time, often of complete strangers, and composed them in such an emotive and thought out way that they appear to be perfect little masterpieces. Cartier-Bresson pioneered this idea of the Decisive Moment: to wait, observe a scene, and take the photo at just the right moment where all of the desired elements of the photograph combine within the composition to create the photo.

Since having a camera myself, I feel a duty to myself to see and record everything around me that I deem significant. Through this, I feel like I have become a more diligent and detail oriented observer. I believe Dillard says something similar to this in chapter two. The camera has trained me, even more so, to take in the details, to pay attention to what others might not see (an interesting shadow or reflection). For instance my favorite moments are when I ignore the obvious attraction (the teams at a sporting event) and instead focus on the background (the kids running under the stands, the faces of those in the crowd, even the moths flying under the stadium lights). Essentially, anything in the “background” fascinates me and in my opinion, usually tells a more interesting story.

One thought on “Learning to see”

  1. The timeline you created of being pushed around in a stroller and pointing out aluminium cans along the sidewalk and how it progressed into your love of photography was fantastic. I also really really like what you said about how the background often tells a more interesting story. I agree with that a lot. The background is what adds depth to the rest of the story and what makes the frontline the frontline. Often times there is more to be seen in the back that in the front.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.