How does what you believe influence what you see?

by Todd Smith on January 5, 2009

My father is a woodworker and he sees wood everywhere. We call him the “wood magnet.” He sees bowls hiding in the thick parts, and spatulas hiding in the thin parts of every tree he passes. For him, the world is full of wood.

As a photographer, I see lots of things. And yet there’s a lot I miss. I call it selective seeing.

Maybe it’s not that I don’t see some things, but that I don’t react to them emotionally. But for all intents and purposes they don’t exist for me.

And I think it works both ways. I should probably look at what I photograph to find out what I really believe.

I think down deep I believe that life is really good. It doesn’t mean I always feel that way, but more often than not I see worlds of beauty worthy of my time and energy.

I am attracted with my camera to things that grow spontaneously from inside. I like things that are real. That’s why I’m attracted to nature; it can grow no other way. And to artists. And to anything or anyone creative. They all fit in nicely with my belief that life is good. Point me to something ugly and I won’t stop until I’ve found a way to see it in a charming light.

It’s interesting though when I’m not so chipper, the same things that were fascinating don’t hold my attention. I see the raw side of every deal. Sunsets and flowers and bright colors and subtle textures mean no more to me than if they were not there. In that moment, I’m believing that there’s something wrong, and so that’s all I see.

How about you? Does what you believe influence what you see? What goes by unnoticed to your mind? And what stands out to you?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

kathryn January 6, 2009 at 3:59 pm
Todd Smith January 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm
Kathryn January 7, 2009 at 7:38 pm
Todd Smith January 7, 2009 at 7:54 pm
June Parrish Cookson January 8, 2009 at 2:08 pm

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