You Can Take Better Photos
Some people are natural at creating things that are pleasing to us, and some arrange objects in such a way that a space feels nice and welcoming. People put outfits together that boggles the mind, but somehow it works (sometimes it doesn’t though. I’m looking at you, Silverlake). We say “they have good taste”, but what is taste? When we say “that person has good taste” what are we talking about? We can agree that we are referring to someone who can choose, curate, create, arrange, compose and gather elements in such a way that they are pleasing to our senses, right? Another word we could use for “pleasing” would be harmony, and its opposite, inharmony.
How is it that some people effortlessly have this “taste” while others, no matter how many days and years they spend studying it have a hard time with it, or can’t even reach that state at all? How is that so many professionals that focus on the technical aspects of photography fail to take more than one decent photo per year? They have all the right equipment but somehow their photos fall flat. They have no impact. Why!?
What I think it comes down to is intuition; the stronger a person’s intuition, the more naturally artistic they are. The better they are at finding the rhythm, the sound, the color, the arrangement, the flow of things. This applies to all fields of art and creativity. So, instead of studying things that have to do with intuition, maybe we should try to strengthen it first, right?
How do you strengthen intuition? By quieting the mind. All of the analyzing, quantifying, judging and internal conversation that our brain is having about the past and the future is making our internal space way too loud. In order to hear the reaction of our intuition, we have to give it some space so it can be felt/heard. It’s an instant impression, our intuition. It’s something we can feel in the body, or as often people call it, the gut.
Try it out. Whenever you look at photos, see how your intuition/gut responds. If you dislike a photo, what did it feel like, and vice versa.
Intuition is a sense that is non-quantifiable, so it’s considered a “mystery” and often we don’t take it seriously and doubt that it actually works (can you count how many times have you gone against your intuition and later realized that it was right?). You could argue that sometimes your intuition makes you doubt, but I have found that in most cases it’s the brain that doubts, the intuition already knows!
Intuition exists outside of what the brain can understand. Afterall, it is like receiver that depends on the senses to receive and translate frequencies. What falls outside of the senses can not be percieved by this brain (A friend of mine said something about intuition recently that has stuck with me. “If it’s an intuitional hit, or decision, it usually comes with fear. But if it’s the brain making the decision, there is no fear.” It is usually intuition that makes us go against what the brain finds comfortable).
One of our most important tools, especially as artists, is our intuition. And part of the commitment to nurturing the growth of our creativity should be strengthening its voice and placing our trust into it. We have been taught to place importance and priority on a brain that thinks that numbers, brand names, stats, shiny objects, and new gadgets are the key to creating beautiful artwork. The brain that thinks sharp photos are good photos (get out of here!). But I believe that by strengthening our intuition we can be effortlessly creative.
Intuition works similar to a guitar tuner; when it is presented with, or is in the presence of a certain frequency (say another human who gives off a bad feeling, or being at a place and realizing that you would have much rather done the other thing your soul really wanted) it will signal you that the frequency is either in tune or out of tune with your being (harmonious or out of harmony. Good or bad). So is someone with good taste highly educated, or are they relying on a strong intuition?
Let’s go back to the guitar tuner analogy. When you are trying to tune a guitar, you need a relatively quiet room, or you have to hold the guitar close to the tuner to pick up the sound so it can take a correct reading. Now if we consider our bodies as the tuner, can we get a good reading of the environment, creation, or situation if our mechanical brain is always making noise? If we are constantly loud inside. If our body is always jacked up on caffeine and sugar. If you’re really considering the art route, but reject these observations, then there needs to be a bridge between what has been and what can be. It requires openness, and a suspension of suspicion.
You see, when it comes to art and artistry, the only thing we need the mechanical brain for is for knowing how to use the tools. Otherwise, we don’t need to depend on it for everything; especially its judgments. The mechanical brain can only form thoughts and judgments based on the past and comparisons (don’t trap or limit your potential by compariong yourslef and your work with others). Intuition is not mechanical nor rigid. It is fluid and free-flowing, unbound by time. The brain doesn’t trust it because it doesn’t understand it, which is ultimately fear of the unknown. Fear of change.
So the first step before anything else is to clear the mental noise and allow your intuition to be the dominant driving force. This transition requires slowness, patience, gentleness, and commitment.