On Seeing

A simple snap and certainly not the sharpest or most technically accomplished image I’ve created but it does I think demonstrate something that often gets overlooked in enthusiast photography these days.

The importance of seeing.

We all look at things, but how often do we really “see”? It’s the same distinction as between hearIng and listening; one is a passive act and the other, to be effective, needs to be active and deliberate.


I crossed the road and two steps ahead of me was the pavement sign informing us that it was a twenty minute walk to the town centre from that point (an optimistic expectation but we will let that pass). Simultaneously, someone crossed the road from the other direction and I “saw” an image of feet walkIng away towards town with the sign in the foreground. As I walked passed I turned and lifted the camera just before the feet disappeared. It was pure instinct and the whole episode from “seeing” to making the photograph was over in a flash, certainly much quicker than it’s taken me to write it down!

Is it a great photograph? No, of course not and it was never meant to be such. Rather it was a moment in time, captured and preserved through a digital medium and despite its banality it was a part of my life experience. Capturing it as I have though also acts as a digitally tangible affirmation that I am still using my eyes to see and not merely to look. That the creative part of my brain is still functioning and interacting with that part of the cerebrum that controls mechanical functions is important to me as is the fact that my eyes still see.

We can’t all be great photographers but we can all be the best that we can be and that starts with having “seeing” eyes.


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