Seeing Really is Believing

Escapades with Your Camera

By Annette Rey

Would you like to own a picture collection of doorknobs, doorknockers, benches, signs, museum articles, plastic toys, display-case jewelry, natural outdoor scenes, animals, twisted tree trunks? What turns you on? The world is alive around you, and you really are too busy to notice the individual beauty of everyday things as you rush to here and go to there. You don’t stop and just look.

That’s why I carry a camera (actually two) everywhere I go. I am eager and wide-eyed, I guess. It just seems to me there are no limits in life. Just knowing I have a camera with me makes me want to use it. I’ve gone so far as to take pictures of cracks in the sidewalk. Nothing is too gigantic, nothing is too infinitesimal to photograph (except microscopically, I suppose). Eventually, I end up with a conglomeration of shots, and some may seem useless at first glance. But I’m confident a use will one day present itself.

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Carrying a camera gives me another purpose to be outside my car. An otherwise uneventful (dare I say, boring) walk down the street to a restaurant after parking my car can turn into a real adventure. You go shopping at the mall, right? Even the doctor’s waiting room offers targets of interest with art hanging on the wall, perchance an interesting lamp on the reading table. Interesting people wear interesting clothing, jewelry, hats. You violate no one’s privacy in a public place (just don’t post faces). I’ve never felt odd and have never had an unpleasant experience related to photographing in odd places. The only time I noticed a person looking at me a bit askance was when I took close-up shots of apples in the grocery store bin. Why this and not when I ran from sewer lid to sewer lid to photograph those? But, oh, that is human nature and just more fodder about which to write.

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Of all the diets on earth, all the advice about exercise, all this time you are moving taking pictures – climbing stairs, bending down, bending over backwards, standing on tip toes to get just the right edges on your shot – you are burning calories. But much more importantly, you are engaging with your environment, you are piquing interest in new things, and you are building brain cells.

At home I look at the photos in order to put them into file folders. It is then I see the details I missed in real life. And that is ironic, isn’t it? You would think I could appreciate all the turns and depths of an object as I stood in front of it. But, no. There is something about the human mind that just is not that quick. We have a general idea what something is as we view it, but we really do not see it in detail. That reminds me of a remark by the character Sherlock Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia. “You see but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.” When I have time to study my photographs, I always find this to be true. The picture reveals far more than I saw at the time, first-hand.

Sometimes I photograph in a frenzy, turning left, turning right, aiming upward, whirling to try to catch a colorfully-lettered van whizzing by that caught my eye too late. Other times I creep quietly so as not to disturb a butterfly, aware of the breeze on my arms, the uneven sod beneath my feet – and then, wait – as I watch my viewfinder gently rise and fall with my quiet breathing.

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Oh, all of life is an experience. And a camera helps us to digest it all the more.

Do yourself a creative favor. Carry a camera. Shoot to capture. Exercise your body while engaging in this pastime, and go home, sit, and discover the world you have not really seen before.

You will be surprised and you may just be charmed into restful reverie in the end.

What’s not to love about all of that?

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