The One Difference Between Cameramen and Photographers


Focusing on the here and now may be a decent recipe for happiness but seldom a good plan to be different or better.

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We spend maybe too much time in the here and now. As you settle into the present, you accept its benefits and shortcomings. Sticking yourself to the same cycle of job, friends, family, and recreation leaves little time to not be influenced by what resides in every one: the status quo. What we see every day often sets a ceiling for our expectations and potential because comparison is inevitable. And when comparison isn’t forthcoming then at least some form of lasting influence is. You can’t just forget what an iPhone looks like after being introduced to one, especially if the only time it’s off your hands is before bed. This is because for every continued use of something you can’t help but not get a feel, liking, and familiarity from that same idea.

These traits are the calling card of routine.

Some ignore the routine by escaping for a few days until Monday hits. But even their escape is routine. To fully break the rules you have to ignore the objects that make following them seem sensible in the first place. This is done by focusing on where you’re looking to, not on what you see here and now. You may have trouble thinking outside the box because you’re searching back and forward but not up and away.

And that’s where we usually place a lid, right?

If your memories and aspirations were a photo book, are they filled with others’ ideas or your own? Are they of the same composition day in and out?  Do you have too few pictures or far too many? Are they sharp or blurry?

And do you know why?

So take out a cloth, clean your lens and try shooting again. With a little more intention on where you place your sight and turn a blind eye towards, you’ll begin to remove the debris. One by one as your pictures lose clutter and noise they gain in clarity, color, and inspiration. Even the annoying work of cropping out distractions and re-framing your target is eliminated because you got it right the first time. Slowly you stop taking common photos of what’s here and now because you could and realize you’re beginning to shoot better ones of what wasn’t there before because you can.

Hopefully after a while your pictures will be empty as so many things before added little value to your life. Now there’s nothing left to capture as a cameraman but endless possibility to create as a photographer. Really no different than a child receiving white paper and crayons for the first time.

And suddenly you’ll be forced to rely on a trait that many graduations, successes, failures, pains, and joys have eroded to a warm, youthful memory of the past:

your imagination

Photo credit: GQ