Photo Tips

Being Present

Long Exposure ISO 100, f/22, 121 seconds with 10 Stop ND

Being present when you are out in the field with your camera is so important for both the personal experience as well as opening up the creative mind.

It is only human nature in modern society to have the brain constantly flitting about from one thought to the next. Worrying about things that need to be taken care of, creating a long mental To-Do-List, thinking about the future and reminiscing about the past. Our brains are on overload and it takes effort to quiet the mind, open our eyes and just be in the moment.

Being present is so important for your mental well being as you can’t change the past and you can’t control the future but you can influence where you are and what you’re doing at that very moment.

ISO 100, f/22, 91 seconds

There are great rewards for being present:

  • Better concentration and focus on your subject.
  • Better attention to technical choices and composition design.
  • The ability to discern what works and doesn’t work in your image.
  • Improves your ability to learn and retain the lessons learned.
  • Clearer and faster decision making, especially when the moment is fleeting.
  • The other senses awaken improving listening and a better connection to your environment.

It takes the disciplined photographer to be able to quiet the mind and be present out in the field. Especially when others are around you. In fact, that is a much more difficult challenge as we are all social creatures and the need to connect and share is so strong between us.

I would think that as photographers that if you asked your companion to give you a few quiet minutes, I’m sure him/her would be happy to oblige. Or it could be like when you go to the grocery store with your mother. Just arrange to meet in a designated time and place so that you can each go your own way.

The best way I’ve learned what being present is truly like I would hike long hikes with a local hiking group, and after a couple of hours of chatting and my mind busy working, my mind would finally quiet down and I would concentrate on each footstep. The senses would awaken and I began to see the forest, feel the breeze, hear the birds singing in the distance and feel the earth under my feet.

I’m not saying you have to suffer 10-plus miles on a rough hike to learn what Being Present is like, but what I do suggest is recognize times when your own mind is its own distraction and try to focus outward instead of inward.

7 replies »

  1. Lovely pictures and words, thanks for sharing. What you said really resonates with me as my thoughts and anxieties are constantly running around my head at high speed. I find that taking pictures is a great way of quietening that inner noise; it focuses my mind to what’s right in front of me and captures a moment of stillness, however fleeting it may be.

  2. Truly stunning photographs, Emily, and excellent advice. We could all use more time for peaceful reflection and contemplation – and each of us has the ability to fit it in our lives in our own unique ways.

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