99% of photographs miss this important truth (as does 99% of our learning)

Walking to the mail the other day I bent to tie my shoe and noticed how many leaves had fallen to the ground; today there are still more. So I grabbed a couple of photographs from that perspective (that’s my parents’ home to the left and ours is the red brick).

One of my favorite things to do as a photographer is to find that unique, unexpected, point of view. Often the most simple and effective way to do this is to go to ground level.

However, probably 99% of all photographs we see are taken from the exact same frame of reference, eye-level by a person who is standing up! Yet the world can look wildly different when we are seated, or from all the way down on the floor, or from the vantage point of eight feet when I hold the camera high above my head.

I do not have, nor do I plan to use, a drone. But I have been known to climb, or crawl, or lay down, or make my way to the top of a building in order to shift my point of view. Taking the time to re-frame a scene is always worth the effort because I am usually surprised by what I learn. I may suspect that another perspective will challenge the way I currently see (and understand), but it takes actually doing what is necessary to learn if I want to really grow.

Am I still talking about photography?

image by Naomi Campbell

I’m not sure if you noticed the development of thought in that paragraph. It wasn’t intentional, but by the time I wrote the last couple of sentences I wasn’t sure if I was writing about photography any more or social/political issues.

You see it’s not just about putting ourselves in places where we typically don’t stand, it’s also about putting ourselves where other people stand. There is a fine line between teaching and learning. I believe we grow more – in spirit and in truth – when we enter a conversation (or a photo-op), more interested in what we can learn than in confirming what we believe we already know.

I may have said this before: Photography is a lot like listening; and conversation is a lot like photography. In a similar vein then, learning is very much the same as going to a new place with a camera. We can either take the tour bus to all the pre-determined views and come away with the same images everyone has already seen – or we can talk to a few locals, get off the beaten track, and begin to see with other people’s eyes.

This is how we must approach the opportunity we have – every day – to grow (prayerfully) in knowledge and in wisdom – DEREK



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