The word “alive” keeps coming up for me lately. According to Merriam-Webster, being alive is about having life, breath, energy, and alertness; being animate.
The quote below came in an email from Lauren Bacon (who asks great questions, by the way, via her curiosity experiments).
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman
She then asked us to consider three important questions.
What makes you come alive? Where are you going? And, who will go with you?
Important questions at any time. We can also ask ourselves what makes us come alive when we’re photographing.
Photographs are a two dimensional depiction of a slice of life – a moment of aliveness, so what we felt in that moment should come across in the image.
According to Ansel Adams, everything is alive.
“The whole world is, to me, very much “alive” – all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can’t look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life – the things going on – within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.” ― Ansel Adams via Goodreads
When we talk about getting to essence in our photographs, or making photographs that have impact or soul, we’re really talking about whether our photographs feel alive.
Sean Kernan, in his book, Looking into the Light, advises that, when looking at one of your own images, don’t ask whether it’s good, but whether it’s alive (Chapter 4).
Does it resonate with you?
Does it have energy?
Does it have meaning beyond what it is?
Does it make you feel something?
Is there an element of surprise?
Does it tell a story or invite questions?
Kernan suggests creating a folder of photographs that feel alive to you (Chapter 7). I’ve started an album for myself on Flickr.
In recent workshops, I’ve talked about the moment when we click the shutter on our cameras as being a type of “photographic namaste” – when the essence or soul or aliveness in you meets the essence or soul or aliveness of what you see.
It’s a moment of pure connection.Read More