I am what you call a visual thinker. A lot of people refer to themselves as visual thinkers, but I suspect it is a little different for me. The way I think has a spatial component to it, as though I see space in front of me but in my mind. My thoughts and ideas appear as distinct objects in that space simultaneously, and they have to be sequenced together linearly when I write or talk.
When I was younger I played a game where I would play film strips in my mind and see how many I could get going at once. After I got about 4 playing simultaneously, I would slide them around like the 15 squares game. Maps are also easy for me to visualize. When I was in Korea back in 1999 their subway system had these crazy 3-dimensional maps as the stations had multiple levels and passageways. I got adept at capturing the map in my memory and then rotating it about as I moved through the station. Basically it’s what GPS does for you now, although I did it in my head for fun.
From this perspective photography represents a way to freeze the minds eye. Our thoughts are always fleeting, flowing from one to another. Yet the act of careful consideration can lead us towards clarity. How we focus the lens and choose our f-stop says much about what is important in an image. And how we can be of two minds, our subject does not always cooperate with the image we’ve already imagined. Remarkably this can result in irreproducible serendipity that is frozen in the image. In this sense what is captured is quite possibly the essence of inspiration.
I also think of photography as a way to defy time. Still images have always been more appealing to me than moving images for that reason. When you freeze time you no longer have to live in the moment. Instead you can observe and study the moment to understand its deeper meaning. In a world that revels in instant gratification and short attention spans, the act of capturing an instant and making it last an eternity forces a form of contemplation that has been lost in the contemporary world.