The Lost Art of Noticing

Photography is the art of noticing, not the art of capturing. It doesn’t start with your camera. It starts with your perception. The actual photos are a byproduct of the noticing. It’s getting harder and harder to notice when everything in our modern life is built to make our lives easier and more convenient.

Although these tools make some parts of our lives easier, they don’t necessarily make them more enjoyable. It’s the difference between ordering a book on Amazon and browsing through an independently owned bookstore, smelling the smells of new and old books, talking to the owner, picking up the books, running your hand over the covers, and finding just the right book. It is the difference between following hand-written directions (turn left at the coffee shop, right at the purple house) versus following the prompts of Google Maps. The former forces you to notice. The latter turns your observation skills off completely.

I swear some of these tools are actually making us less smart as a species. I just made myself a cup of tea with my instant hot water tap. It was convenient. It was easy. But, I miss the click of the gas stove and hearing the woosh as the flame comes to life. I miss noticing the billowing steam. The thing I miss the most is noticing the trickling sound of the boiling water as it pours into my mug. That sound viscerally reminds me that I’m taking the time for a small gesture of self-care.

Noticing these little things of ordinary, everyday magic is what makes us artists. We’re exposing ourselves to less and less of it the more we choose convenience, comfort, and easy. This week, and always really, I challenge you to put down your phone, step away from your computer, go make yourself a cup of tea, analog-style, and experience the ordinary magic of everyday life. Noticing this magic will change your photography more than a souped-up and very convenient auto-focus system.

Love, Erika

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