Seeing by Drawing

“The greatest tool and the source of individuality for any photographer is the way they see the world.”  Kat Sloma

For quite a while I have been trying to slow down and take more time when I am taking photos.  The tripod helps me slow down, but I don’t always have to use it.  Sometimes I just think I have to snap the photo and move on…and I really don’t know for sure where that came from.  It’s a habit that goes way back.  But it is time to do something about it.
To help us learn to really look at a subject we want to photograph, Kat suggests we draw it first.  Yup. Pencils, pens, paper.  Nothing fancy, no expensive materials.  Just take the time to sketch what you are wanting to get an image of.  
This is my new creative breakthrough.  And not an itty bitty one (Susan knows what I’m talking about).  This one has my attention.  
Before
This little piece of pottery is a favorite of mine, and I have taken photos of it before. Most of them look much like this one.  I keep it on a shelf with other special things and some of my art work.  It feels good when you hold it…don’t know how else to say it.  I took this photo today before trying to draw it on paper.   And you should know that I used my favorite lens, the 50mm, which allows for low light images, but you can only get so close.  
Then I got out my paper and pencil, sat down, and began to draw.  
I noticed the circles, the shape of the sides, so that is what I put on that first drawing.
Then I drew another picture of it, looking at it again.  This time I saw that the top edge had and elliptical shape, and I saw the light and shadows.
I drew a third image, from a different angle.  You know, I had never noticed until today that there are little bubbles in the finish, little imperfections.  And I knew there was color in it, but never really saw how many different colors until now.  
All of those tiny imperfections, colors, textures, and the shape come together to make this piece a true work of art.  
What kind of image would bring out the best? How would I do it differently?
First, I changed to my 18-55mm lens so I could actually zoom in closer.  Then I blocked out the light from the window so that there would only be one light source, one shadow.  
After
Now you can see what I saw…this simple yet lovely work of art, filled with small bits of color and tiny imperfections, made more beautiful by the play of the light and shadows, brought to a place that honors the creation that it is.
I totally enjoyed this assignment. Thank you, Kat!

12 Comments

  1. We really get a sense of what's special about the pot and what it means to you from the second photo. I suspect most of us would normally settle for the first one without pushing on to capture something more. What a difference slowing down can make!

    1. Yes, slowing down really does make a difference. I never would have thought about slowing enough to make a drawing before taking the photos. It's easy to "settle" for what we think is adequate…but then to take it a step further and see the difference, really see it, that is worth every moment spent!

  2. Deb, this is perfect. What a difference between your first and second shots! You obviously grasped the lesson and wow, it worked. Now, I'm off to find my object, some paper and a pencil.

  3. What a great exercise! I am definitely guilty of the "shoot-and-move-on" type of photography, even though I know the benefits of slowing down. I liked having a view into your mental process and what you experienced as you really "looked" at this precious object. The final result speaks for itself.

  4. Well done, Deb! I love the contrast of before and after…..amazing what we can do with more time and attention. I also am trying to slow down and really look.

  5. Your experience is a fantastic example of what this exercise is all about, Deb. I think sometimes, as photographers, we become impatient. We think we've "seen" the moment and it's time to move on. But it's amazing what a little bit of time and study can do. Your second image really highlights the details of the pot – the bubbles, the colors, the shape – in an amazing way. Wonderful!

  6. How wonderful that you had a creative breakthrough while doing this exercise. It is amazing what we see when we really look at something. That is an adorable little bowl, and I love all the colors in it.

  7. I think it's cool that you sensed that after drawing the lighting would change if you changed lenses. You is smart!! : )
    I can see why you're attached to this piece, and why it "fits" your hand-double meaning intended.
    I wouldn't have seen the eliptical shape at the top-which I think is one of the reasons I get frustrated when drawing. I see something I want to shoot, but it's not a head thing, it's an intuitive thing. Funny they don't transfer across….but how cool that this works for you.
    I love the random design on the side. And I really liked the crop of the one you shared in the Flickr pool.

    You better keep that paper and pencil handy. I think this will augment what you do with your inside shots.

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