July 6, 2012

Out of the Corner of Your Eye, with Sean Kernan

A month ago I gave a talk to a group of 300 or so psychiatrists. What I had to say to them was the same thing I have to say to photographers: if you want to see more, stop looking for things. In order to show the difference, I had the doctors do a very simple exercise that involves looking out of the corners of the eyes and ignoring what’s right in front of them.

You can try it yourself right now. Just look fixedly at something across the room for a minute. Then, without moving your eyes, let your attention go all the way out to the right as far as you can. It won’t be very detailed but you can see what is there as shapes, energy, light, dark. Just don’t look directly at it.

Next attend to the left of your field of vision, again without moving your eyes. See what is there.

Still keeping your eyes fixed ahead, let your attention go out to both sides. Notice the differences in the fields and the interplay.

Finally, start moving (slowly) without moving your eyes. The peripheral fields will change as you move through space. Note the changing—not what changes but the change itself.

That’s the point of the exercise: the noticing of the attention, the awareness, a kind of spaciousness in your mind. That’s the state you are in when you take your best pictures, a state in which you see what is there without having to conceptualize or categorize it.

And then you take the picture. That’s the secret, for photographers, psychiatrists, and everyone else.

Exercise and investigate your creativity with Sean:

Creativity and the Photographer
with Sean Kernan
July 29 - August 3, 2012

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