Meet my weakenesses

BlogHer Original Post

"The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition."

--Wystan Hugh Auden

Full confession: I am completely petrified – 100 percent alarmed - that I am losing my Eye. As mentioned previously, I recently picked up the camera after a self-induced hiatus and now realize my Muse had been taken for granted.

Anyone can buy fancy gear and all the editing software in the world but without the Eye, they might as well grab a disposable at Walgreen’s and call it a day. The Eye, a head-cocked way of looking at the world, is what distinguishes a die-hard photographer from someone who only takes photos on vacation or with their cell phone. Photographers do not accept the world at face value - they see beauty in peeling paint, wisdom in the hands of an old man and God in a ripe, red strawberry.

I realized this differential detail when a friend showed me photos of her trip to Japan. Inevitably, she stood center and smiling in every single photo which – in my mind – distracted from the landscape and made for a monotonous series. The shots merely acted as evidence (“Look at me! I’ve been to Tokyo!”) with no regard for lighting, color or composition. A recent point-and-shoot digital camera review in WIRED begins:

“If you’re setting out to conquer Half-Dome this summer, you’ll want the pictures to prove it.”

This is why photographers (whether we get paid or not) are infected with a certain snobbery in the ol’ eyeball. We simply cannot help it. After all, everyone has something they sniff at with great judgment. My sister is a snob about karaoke bar set-ups and fishing poles, my father is a snob about casino buffets, my mother is a snob about party appetizers (must be homemade, catered=lazy) and my brother is a snob about furniture, among other things.

My long-winded point is this: I'd assumed my Eye would wait patiently for my return but it most definitely did not. Not sure where it went but it didn’t bother waiting around for my fickle index finger. Where my Eye would once snag daily on endless possibilities of funky angles – the smash of colors in the cereal aisle, a lonely-lighted ATM, character-ridden faces in the park – I must now make a concerted effort to truly See.

Previously, I’d suffer whiplash from my Eye pulling me hither and yon; these days, I must remind myself to look. This is worrisome as this practice now resembles my fashion strategy, e.g., leaving myself bathroom mirror notes: “Don’t Forget: Look cute on Saturday!”

Evidently, the Eye has gone flabby and apathetic on me and while I feel a Flikr of that familiar insight, I’m going to have to win it back by re-stating my dedication.

Furthermore, I am also a complete hypocrite. Forever I am urging others to enter photo contests when I have yet to do so. Exhibit A:

Hey, you guys! Don’t forget to enter Hemisphere Magazine’s (United Airlines in-flight mag) 15th Annual Travel Photo Contest.

The prize is solid placement in their December issue and some pocket change. Getting your brilliant shot in front of thousands of other travelers at peak season - most of whom are trapped in their seats for a minimum two hours - is nothing to sneeze at. Yes, I have been said traveler and the annual results of this particular contest never fail to impress.

Amateurs my ass – most shutterbugs capture at least one breathtaking shot in their lives and every one deserves its day in the sun. Deadline is September 15, 2007.