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Anonymous asked:
how can i work on my eye? i see super awesome pics online of someone walking by a bench... i could have been by that bench a hundred times and not have seen that shot... i want to seeeeeee things!!! been trying to pay attention to shadows and light and texture. i carry my x100 with me everywhere... but i cant see things. i work full time and shoot on the side. so trying to shoot everyday is hard when its the same old thing. how do i see the same old thing a new way? how do i make it interesting?

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching along side Chris Hurtt for the past four years at Gulf Photo Plus. He teaches a great class on the art of seeing and he has some fantastic exercises that I now do on a regular basis. I’ll sort of outline a few things here.

Pick a simple subject to photograph for a week or two. Something like “lines” or “circles” or “red”. Keep your camera on you at all times and only be looking for lines. Or circles. Or red. You’ll start with the easy things like power lines. Lines painted on the street. Etc. Look deeper than that. Look for deeper interpretations of the word “line” or whatever you’ve picked. Do this for a week or two. 

After you have done that pick another subject. Reflections. Motion. Blue. Shadows. Etc. Spend a week or two only going after that specific subject. Don’t worry about anything else. You’re just going to be shooting reflections for a few weeks. Glass. Marble. Water. Mirrors. You can find stuff reflecting or you can take a mirror out with you and shoot reflections off of that. You’re in complete control.

Do this for three or four months and you’ll start to see red lines reflecting in a blue window with a circle around them. It’s totally wax on, wax off Karate kid stuff.

The next assignment is something like the bench shot you mentioned. Pick an ordinary object that you pass on a regular basis. Maybe it’s a bench. Maybe it’s a pay phone. A newspaper machine. A tree. I suggest something outside or something that has different qualities of light falling on it at different times of the day. Spend a month photographing that thing. Shoot it in the morning. The afternoon. The evening. Shoot from far away. Shoot up close. Get under it. Stand over it. Left, right, and center that thing. Throw a flash on it. Shoot the shadow it makes. Shoot a reflection of it from a window nearby. See that object and make something interesting happen with it. Once you have learned to investigate something like that then you move on to another type of object or subject. You will see the same old thing in a new way because you’ve invested the time into it. You stopped. You pondered. You sat in front of that park bench or whatever and looked at it for an hour. All zen like and stuff.

I swear to you… if you’ll do this kind of stuff on a weekly basis for the next year you will have grown leaps and bounds. You’ll be like Neo in the Matrix and you’ll walk out into the world and see the green code that is light, shadow, composition, line, texture, etc. You’ll walk by a plain old park bench one day, snap a shot in instagr.am and get 1,000 likes because you’ll have “seen” something everyone else would have just walked past.

Cheers,
Zack 

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