What Do You See With Your Camera?

June 20, 2019 · 3 min read

What do you see through your camera when you take a photograph?

I specialize in photoart, also known as photo manipulation. As I stated in an earlier article, I see myself as a storyteller. So how does that work in practice? How do I explain to people what I do to produce my artwork?

I love this quotation from Edgar Degas:

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

What Do You See?

What do you see when you take a photograph?

With the advent of the smartphone we all take photographs everywhere we go. Snapshots, holiday memories, family memories. Perhaps the beautiful architectural lines of a building. A beautiful blue sky reflecting in a tranquil lake. Perhaps people sitting eating at a restaurant or some beautiful countryside.

What Do I See?

I see all those things and more. Sometimes I go out with friends and they ask me what I see in a view as they love the way I can weave a story. I might see there is a pigeon on a roof looking down to the street, or a cat looking out of a window. They become part of the story of the photograph. I see a tiny yacht in the distance on the lake that gives the lake a context, people enjoy boating on that lake. I feel the warmth of the sun or the cold of the wind and try to incorporate that feeling.

Keep Warm Eating Outside
Keep Warm Eating Outside

I see the table at the restaurant before people arrive and anticipate the diners’ arrival as in this image from outside a restaurant in Copenhagen. I see a dead tree in the middle of beautiful countryside or perhaps a building decaying surrounded by beautiful wild flowers. All visions with stories to tell.

Let’s look at a couple of my pieces to give you an idea of what I see.

Glance Down An Alleyway In Cortona

Cortona in Tuscany, Italy, was the setting for the feature film ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’. High on a mountain, with fabulous views and beautiful architecture, it is not hard to see why the town was chosen.

The Excitement And Anticipation Of Creation

On a recent visit to Cortona, I was surrounded by tourists thronging to the shops, bars and restaurants. But I was interested in what was going on in the alleyways and round the dark corners. These are nearly always places of discovery.

As always when I am on a shoot, I had already started to develop a vague excitement, the beginnings of a desire to get home. To start to create on the computer the picture I had in my head when I took the photos already in my camera. By this I mean, the final images I knew I was going to create and could see clearly in my mind.

This approach actually drives me nuts but it is what it is. When I am working on a photograph I work and work and work until I see in front of me what I see in my head. Sometimes it happens really quickly and very little work is needed on the photograph. Other times I can go back to something several times per day over several days.

Deciding On Whether To Even Take A Photograph

I was pleased with what I had taken so far during my visit to Cortona. I looked down the next alleyway and it had nice lines, contrasts in brickwork and I liked the lighting. It was warm and sunny and the light brought out the lovely earthy colors.

I was deciding what and how I was going to shoot when ‘the magic moment’ happened.

Walking The Dog In Cortona
Walking The Dog In Cortona

A man in an orange jacket came out of a doorway with dogs on a lead. And suddenly the image took life, it had a story! My pulse quickened and I had to slow my breathing and work really fast to take a shot before he moved. I knew it would be good and I was excited to start work on the photo.

Other people had stopped to see what I was photographing and all walked on without lifting their cameras. They couldn’t see what I could see, a visual story in the making. Looking at my final image now, what do you see?

Another Chance Glance

The second example is from Lewes in the UK. I was on a shopping trip with my Mum but had my camera with me as always. As I walked down the high street I happened to glance through an open gate and bammm! That magic happened again.

The Secret Courtyard
The Secret Courtyard

Here was a story waiting to be told. This time a secret courtyard was waiting to be discovered, full of magic and mystery. The nice thing about this image is that when it is on a plain wall it actually looks like you are looking through a window to the scene beyond.

So what do you see when you look through your camera? Let your imagination see the view.

About the Author:

I am a fine art photographer, acrylic artist and writer. Promoting the use of art for healing and enhancing the mood of the environment in which a piece of art sits is an important focus for my work. I specialize in photo art, working on my own photographs to develop their story further. I write poetry and write a blog as well as short stories and have fun combining my art and writing. A Fellow of Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), I am also a Buddhist and my spiritual life makes an important contribution to my work. I live in Umbria, Italy with my husband, dogs and a large number of cats.