Don’t Think, Feel

Photography is often thought of as a literal process. Point the camera at something interesting and shoot. Wait for the right light, find an interesting composition, expose the image properly and so on and so forth. All true! Even the most creative photographers need a solid foundation in the technical aspects of the craft. In order to capture our "vision" into a well executed photograph, one must first master the basic skills of composition, metering, exposure and so on. That being said, I have met multitudes of photographers over the years with the best equipment (often better than mine and most pro's I know), an understanding of exposure, metering and completely capable of composing images using guidelines such as the rule of thirds ect. What the images often lacks is an emotional and spiritual connection to the subject.

Too much thinking and not enough feeling leads to images that are technically perfect, but fail to evoke an emotional response in the viewer or, as Bruce Lee puts it after slapping an overly thoughtful pupil in Enter the Dragon: "Don't think, feel!" There is a Buddhist expression " you are not your thoughts" which references the human tendency to get too caught up in thought, leaving us stressed and unable to step back from ourselves and experience the world around us, realizing not all we think is what we see.

While on my way this spring to Boneyard Beach of Botany Bay, I found myself daydreaming of compositions as I drove out to the island in the darkness. I have been here before. I know the lay of the land, or at least I thought I did. Once I arrived on the beach, I went from one set of trees to the next framing up all of those pre-visualized shots, and not being at all happy with any of them.  As my frustration began to rise and the light was getting good, I put my camera in the bag, dropped my tripod in the sand and went to sit down on the beach, trying  to clear my mind as best I could  and simply looked and listened to the landscape. It was in this quite moment blocking out my thoughts, that I saw the image literally lying directly in front of me. Quietly and quickly, I retrieved my gear and set up the shot. Withing seconds I had the shot I didn't even know I was looking for. So next time your in the filed and the vision just isn't materializing, try to relax your mind and instead don't think, feel!


    Hi Joseph- I’ve been a long time fan of your gorgeous landscape photographs and would love to know if you ever come down to the Outer Banks area? I’d absolutely love and be forever grateful for the chance to be able to shoot and learn a little with you =)

    Hi Joseph, I’ve seen alot of your work in outdoor photographer also on facebook. Its awesome you truly are a master and I can tell that you are in love with what you do something that few get to do in this world. I hope you never loose the passion! I would think you get this alot but it would meen so much for someone who’s work I respect so much would take a look at my stuff just a peek would meen so much. thank you. Jason Perius

    Absolutely right! I agree completely! When I am in thinking mode I am usually thinking about the past or the future. I am almost never really present. Just being present is what it is all about. I struggle to remember that …..but when I do … photography almost always benefits!

    Just a great article Joe and this image is locked in my memory now since I first saw it I think on your FB page some days ago…It is just spectacular .a classic in my opinion. Beautful words and wonderful image. thank you for both.

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