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.
You can view my photos in the photography category and also on National Geographic’s YourShot community. Please get in touch if you would like to purchase any of the photos you see.
Andrew Britannia said:
A very articulate yet simple analogy of your “Art” as a result of your invested time, heart & soul. Delivered with concise explanation resulting in an increased curiosity from the perspective of me the reader to explore further.
Also it’s an opportunity to practice writing as I am currently studying literature & language with the view to producing a book one day. As a youth I was very much a science & mathematically strong student. Now in my mid-life developing a passion for the arts, particularly writing, but also the visual arts, hopefully I will squeeze out the one book I like to believe we are all capable of by the time I reach retirement age.
After all, something will have to be undertaken in old age else the mind not occupied could, as does with many, deteriorate. So please forgive me if I seem to ramble off onto a literate tangent. Articulating the right words & often too many is an unfortunate fault that hopefully within time I will be adept to curtailing if not a master. I sincerely aspire to to both explain & entertain.
When reading your article, straight away, 1st time, I became hooked to your explanation of 3D visualisation. Not many people can create a 3D image in their mind & change perspective easily. Most people struggle with holding a 2D image with clarity, let alone manipulating it. Skills such as reading a map with contour data are seemingly redundant in this modern age of wifi & GPS. The irony that yesterdays technology becomes tomorrows artistic renaissance tickles my wit as being a poetry in motion. As a generation we have experienced so many changes, so many giant leaps in knowledge & understanding of not just our own lives but the bio-sphere that maintains our existence and especially how it is both resilient & fragile.
As a species, we are I believe, living on the cusp of a golden age. Having the experiences of being in a very divided, isolated & almost clearly definable political, cultural & spiritual world to being thrust into an incredible technological age of information & communication. Transient populations pursuing happiness & the opportunity to pursue happiness.
A “Global Village” where almost anywhere can be travelled to in a day or a few. Where cultural, political & spiritual tolerance inevitably must be mastered by all. As resources are recognizably finite, political old enemies must confront themselves in the face of being exposed in front of the worlds populace as well as their peers in the international communities and their own their own people by the media. This is evident in all countries, even the few tyrannical undemocratic minority are taking steps, if even they are small towards a unity, a collective recognition of interdependence. As only in the last 70 years have we come across a divide between nature & our species. That as well as being vulnerable to extinction by “acts of God” with our ability to adapt & learn the alchemy of nature, we as a species have become potentially able to destroy our own future. From the “Cold War” post WW2, the concept & ability for countries to exercise a “Mutually Assured Destruction” in a nuclear WW3 potentially may save us or destroy us along with most of the life on Earth.
So, back on topic. Since the 1970’s, when I had my 1st camera as a child, looking through the eye lens, looking for that perfect frame inspired me to learn, as a hobby, the correct use of an SLR camera as a teenager, a Zenit with all the fiddly adjustments, just learning the basics with aperture, shutter speed & gauging light levels by best guess kept me occupied for many many hours as a restless insomniac even as a teenager. Taking the same shot with different calibrations of settings & then different qualities of film was very rewarding when occasionally a good photo was produced captivating “that moment” perfectly.
A pity that my old Zenit camera & accessories themselves were carelessly broken & discarded by a burglar a few years ago. A mindless waste considering that the camera itself had been in my possession for nearly 20 years & was in good working order. RIP Zenit.
I particularly enjoyed taking long exposure shots late at night with tripod, stopwatch & notebook. Always of panoramic scenes or basically anything that had a subject that pleased the eye. An irony, an odd or out of place component & when feeling adventurous, a series of photos, one leading to the next of a scene or even up to a 360 degree collage of some random place I most likely would never see again.
Portrait photography however has never really appealed. Ironically with modern technology & the current trend for “selfies” more photographs are produced in one day than what were produced in the entire 19thCentury.
Maybe, even hopefully, the up & coming generations will fuel a renaissance in artistic photography that people such as yourself have devoted much of your lives. Very often learning traditional hands on methods appeals to peoples artistic & conservational yearnings to step back in time to when real effort was required over lengthy spans of time to achieve one result or a few, totally in contrast to our modern age of instant gratification.
After all, even the best piece of technology can only produce a digital pixelated image, which if magnified is very poor, like an old news paper photo compared to a piece of film correctly processed & developed in a dark room.
No doubt, in time comparably equal or superior digital imaging will be achieved with incredible amounts of memory & data processing available to the public, eventually as seemingly only military or astronomically expensive devices have that capability presently.
I truly hope that some bored teenager, browsing the internet will find your images & artistic perspective inspirational. I can honestly say that as a hobby, photography can & often does help to discipline the mind. After all, one image can encompass a seemingly massively variable number of feelings & thoughts that could or would need thousands of words and even then because of individual interpretations, fall short of achieving to be understood or appreciated.
The beauty of art is after all, in the eye of the beholder, but unlike any other visual art form, the freezing of time, recording one almost infinitely small moment into a permanent frame has incredible potential.
With an estimated 3.5 trillion photos as of the end of 2012, even if only 1 in a million, 0.0000001% were any good that would be 3.5 million photos to contemplate & reflect on.
Well, I hope you have been able to tolerate my ramblings. Keep up the good art, rather than say work, as art is a pleasure to savour & remember, a journey into our own hearts, minds & souls. To refer to art as work seems would be a paradox.
Brian Lee Yung Rowe said:
Hi, Thanks for reading and giving such a thoughtful response. It’s a nice feeling when words and images connect with someone else. Sorry to hear about your camera — I’ve never heard of them before, but they look neat!
Hi Brian the GPS
Very happy to meet somone who loves visual learning and is more advanced than me! Your words express what I intend to say for my love of visuals (colors, photographs, movies), but was hindered by my lack of excellent commands of English. Nonetheless, I will not quit imagining, learning, shooting and creating.
Hi Andrew Britannia
I too enjoy long exposure shots late at night with tripod and painting with light. Tripod has also helped me to create my own self-portrait with environmental context. I guess I am like you, I don’t like to take too much selfies, but it is necessary to leave some evidences for the next generations that we have ever lived. Let the evidences be something beautiful, something encouraging. Hopefully, we are growing into like a stable tripod, that no storm can shake our inner calm: to keep on exploring and appreciating without fear.
Brian Lee Yung Rowe said:
Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad my description resonates with you. It actually takes me a long time to write what I intend, so it’s great to know that it makes sense to others. And then of course we have pictures to communicate that which we cannot write nor speak.