Mindful looking

©Ellie Ivanova. Brothers (2011)

The most important reason I believe in photography is its ability to transform the person taking the picture. When you have a camera in your hand, it makes you look harder at the world you are trying to capture. It forces you to pay attention and notice things,  find beauty in unassuming places and – as a side effect – understand the world better, or differently. Love it more. That was in fact the reasoning that gave birth to my idea of the Third Eye Workshops for Roma kids.

But you don’t need to have a camera in your hand to trigger this intellectual and emotional process of observation. Actually, the first assignment beginner photographers get is simply to bring a cut out rectangle to their eyes and to practice looking through that for a time. Sometimes we need an occasion created specifically to make us look. Time set aside for just observing and taking in what we’ve seen.

Taking a few moments out of our busy lives and making an attempt at really seeing is a kind of meditation. I like these moments of intentional mindfulness. This is how I do it.

I find something ordinary to focus on, with a special effort to notice the details: surfaces, textures, empty spaces, light, contours, nuances of color. I focus on it for a minute and think how it moves me, once I’ve taken a note of it. Inevitably, I always change my relationship with the things I’ve observed as a result of this exercise. I feel more connected to what surrounds me yet in greater harmony.

And since vision prompts attitude, the potential of this mindful looking to change the world is so powerful we just need to give it a try.

2 thoughts on “Mindful looking

  1. I love the way you put this! I always carry a camera on me, and I just ordered my first DSLR (should be arriving by mail today!). I’m excited to learn how to use it & do some more ‘mindful looking’ of my own.

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