Shifting Perspectives: Moving from Observer and Scribe, to Artist and Creator

May 25, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I've been picking up a theme in my thinking and emotions as I work through some experimentation around my photography.

In the past and to some extent still today, I use photography as a way to extend my role as observer or bystander. At parties, I often feel that way. In large groups or places like bars or clubs, I am the quiet chameleon who sits on the sidelines and watches those on set. 

As such, much of my photography was essentially scribing the events in front of me. It's a very technical, photojournalistic and dare I say masculine and left-brained. It's served me well and will continue to play a role in my passion. When it comes to the macro view of a butterfly, or the way a petal serves as an opaque multi-colored filter to sunlight. What a natural wonder to be able to witness from a distance, and what an honor to be allowed to capture its simple beauty on film. So, this isn't about right or wrong, better or worse.

This is about another way to look at things as well - in addition to - as another tool in my tool box.

Instead of just observing or scribing what is going on, I feel a "yang" pull towards immersing myself in the moment as an artist, allowing me to experience and feel what is going on. That also opens me up to the possibility of not just being an artist, but being a creator who borrows, shifts, adds to, takes away, and manipulates the moment into a new, unique creation - but one that is blended with my experiences, perceptions, feelings, hurts, joys, regrets, sorrows, accomplishments, celebrations, soul.

I want to expand my sphere of influence and creativity, so I'm expanding or shifting perspectives, moving from "observer-scribe" to "artist-creator."

Getting to an AC Focus

How do I do that?  What does an "artist-creator" do?

Well, I am learning best by figuring out what NOT to do, or what is no longer service me well - and then building from that point, I define what actions should better meet my needs and intentions.  Then I experiment and test them out - adjust or abandon - until I'm satisfied with the end point.

So, the first question is - What caused me to notice I was shooting as an observer, at least mostly when it came to people (including events or performances)?

  • preferring candid shots of people vs. them being aware or them being staged or posed
  • shooting on auto mode or a mode for a particular type of shot (macro, portrait, etc.) vs. using manual mode with knowledge and technique

That's what's not working for me as much any more.  It continues to have a purpose in my toolbox, but I want to learn something different. 


My Building Blocks to AC Focus

While i have a good eye to frame a shot, especially with buildings, nature scenes or even macro photography, when it comes to PEOPLE,  i rarely take time to:

  • determine how to best use the ambient lighting, along with any lighting technique(s) and effects(s) that would enhance the shoot
  • compose and position the subjects (people), and to the degree possible - the background and/or the subjects relationship to it
  • carefully check focus, lighting, camera and/or flash settings, color, light or color histograms, etc. 
  • take the photo
  • review the photo, and adjust expectations or setup if needed

So, these are my five building blocks.  


Or, as Tony Corbell shared with us,






So, I'm building steps into the process to force me to slow down, be more present, and be more mindful.

Now, I'm off to put this to a test.  Mass Avenue - Experimental Photo Shoot (AC Focus)


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