Taking great photographs really comes down to exploring the artist within you. If you think in terms of your five senses, you will be seeing your world through fresh eyes. A whole new world will open up to you.
As we explore the five senses, the simple act of gratitude and mindfulness will help you notice the important details that are often overlooked. There is beauty is all around us—in our everyday lives. In the tiny flower blooming up through the concrete sidewalk, in the raindrops dripping on our windowpanes, and in the sunlight peeking through the trees, dappling the ground.
Focus on connecting to the world through your senses and bring a new creative eye to your photography. Before we begin…
Just Remember to Relax
Photos are much easier to create if you are enjoying the moment and being mindful of being present. Being fully there.
In today’s multi-tasking world, we can often lose focus. So, take a deep breath, enjoy the moment you are in, and grab your camera.
1. Smell the Fragrance of The Scene
“Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
When you are taking that deep breath; really notice the scents as you inhale.
Do you smell the bluebonnet field heralding your childhood? A single scent can take you back in time. Nostalgia waves over you. Suddenly you are a child again lost in memories of running through wide-open fields at springtime. Try to capture that smell in your photograph.
Try to freeze-frame time. Shoot in macro, getting really close-up on the bluebonnets to really remember the smell of this moment. How does that scent look to you through the viewfinder?
2. Hear The Symphony That Surrounds You
“It is the language of nature to which one has to listen” – Vincent van Gogh
What types of sounds do you hear? Listen closely. Can you hear birds singing? Crickets chirping? The waves slowly crashing into the shore. Close your eyes and focus only on the sounds you hear. Close your eyes and listen.
There is a song, a cadence, and a beautiful rhythm in the everyday. Sometimes it goes unheard, but if you watch for it, encounter it, you can stop that moment.
If you notice it, you will elevate the mundane to the magnificent. Listen for the melody. It is there. You will find beauty and gratitude in the sound of the water filling up the sink as you wash dishes.
Take a moment and give thanks for your blessings. Gratitude is a great practice that will lead you to not only be more aware in your photography but in your life, as well. Count your blessings. Start with your hearing. What a wonderful gift, to hear.
3. Savor The Flavor Of The Moment
What are you eating? Describe the taste through your photographs. Is it warm? Sweet? Notice the taste of the tiny sprinkles of candy on those cupcakes. Sample the smooth, stickiness of the strawberry icing. Record the taste of that comfort-filled, baked-with-love, birthday cake.
Notice the steam coming off of that freshly popped bag of popcorn, or the face of a child as they bite into a bitter lemon. Note how the steam floats up as you sip from a warm cup of coffee or tea. Revel in the taste of the moment. Experience and savor it. Take it all in.
You are starting to see with your senses now.
4. Feel The Moment Through Touch
What do you feel? What textures are you in contact with at this moment? The billowy comfort of a soft, hand-stitched quilt? Can you imagine the quilter’s hands sewing each loving stitch as you trace your fingers along the stitching?
Do you feel the purr of a kitten under fluffy fur? Or the dimpled hand of a toddler? Do you touch the soft cratered dimples under those plump baby fingers, knowing that they will only be there for a short time? Time is fleeting. Babies grow. Time flies.
Hold that precious moment in your hands.
5. See Through The Viewfinder
What do you see when you view life through the viewfinder? Our vision is one of the main ways we photograph the world around us. This is tried and true. Really look around you. Observe.
Notice the birds on the power lines and the pattern their shapes make. Find the meaning and symbolism in what you see. Why are you capturing that moment, from that angle, why is it in color and not black-and-white? What are you saying through your image? What is your vision?
Always Shoot From The Heart
“To take photographs means to recognize – simultaneously and within a fraction of a second – both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
If you add an extra element of heart, your photographic eye magnifies. Use your heart to capture a photo of something that moves you, resonates with you, or reminds you of the splendor of this brilliant world. Those photographs will reflect the mirror of yourself.
There is a little bit of you in every subject you photograph. That is the nature of art.
Seek to Experience All Five Senses
Next time you have a camera in your hands, try to see, hear, taste, smell and touch. Explore the moment, the setting, and the experience. Be all in it. Your photographs will take on a new, and deeper meaning than before. Let your senses guide you on a magical journey.