Blinded by Expectations

Many may think and believe that we photographers see with our eyes. Yes, we do but the real seeing happens in the brain. It’s the brain that allows us to see what’s there and interpret it in our way. This interpretation is what makes the photographs our own and unique to us. Multiple photographers can photograph the exact same scene or subject and all of the results will be different. If we enter a scene, or really anything we want want to photograph, with specific expectations, it’s likely that the resulting photographs will fall short in strength and not meet the expectations. If we push aside any expectations and simply observe what we’re seeing, explore it and ask a lot of questions, the resulting photographs will indeed be stronger and be the photographer’s unique vision of the scene.

Expectations can and do blind our vision. When I say vision, I’m referring to the brain. I have had personal experience with this shooting landscapes in Death Valley. Specifically the Mesquite Sand Dunes. During my first trip to the dunes, I had high expectations that I would come away with many exquisite photographs. How could I not given the beauty, majesty, textures and light and shadow that was obvious? I did not come away with strong photographs. I came away with what I refer to as boring crap that had nothing to say. I hung my head in extreme disappointment feeling that I had failed and the dunes were simply too much for me. Fast forward to my next trip to Death Valley and the dunes. Yes, more crap as I’d not let go of the expectations. If my memory serves my accurately it was the third trip before I released the expectations and allowed myself to see what was there with no expectations. I allowed myself to see with an openness that was not present on the first two trips. What resulted were a few photographs that I consider some of my best work. 

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