Improve Your Photography: 3 Ways To Become More Observant

Do you notice the little things in life?  Did you know that there is a positive correlation between being observant and being a good photographer?  Observation and opportunity are one in the same in photography.  If you learn to be more observant you’ll increase your odds of finding interesting shots everywhere you go.

An interesting shot with lots of geometry… the narrow slit on the side of a sidewalk was all but invisible to the people walking by at breakneck speeds.


Slow Down

When I take my friends with me when I do any type of photography they have the tendency to influence the speed at which I move through the city, town, middle earth, or forest.  If they don’t have a camera or the desire to take a photograph they tend to have the mindset of point A to point B.  They want to cover as much ground and “see as much as possible” in the least amount of time.

Your friends could learn something from you here, by slowing down and casually walking to where you want to go (or meandering around aimlessly) you are allowing yourself time to see the little things.  Things that aren’t evident if you’re looking at your feet hoping not to trip or trying to quickly navigate the human traffic on sidewalks in a busy city.  Slow down!


The benefits of this extend far beyond photography, slowing down and taking in the environment around you is almost therapeutic.  Most of us tend to move through life at breakneck speeds and once in a while the conscious effort of slowing to a crawl and looking around gives us a chance to live in that moment and be a part of the world around us.   

Look In Every Direction

It’s our tendency as humans to look forward in a sort of tunnel vision way.  Sure, we notice movement in our peripheral vision but it’s rare for us to look from side to side and behind us on the regular (unless you’re super paranoid).  If you want to notice more, or be more observant, you have to break out of this norm…  Take a moment and look behind you to see how the light is hitting the scene.  Look side to side and really take notice of what is around each corner.

I was practicing looking… really looking in every direction when I came across this cute little tyke sitting in the window.

Clear Your Head

If you’re searching and searching for a shot that you’ve thought up in advance I can assure you that you’re missing great shots all around you.  We have all done it, I just did it yesterday…  When you tell yourself what shot you’re looking for you set yourself up to have a one track mind (Pun intended…  You know, because of the train on the track in the image below…  You get it).

By clearing your mind or forgetting any preconceived shots you are allowing yourself to be more observant of the world around you.

Catching the conductors head pop out of the window would have been impossible had I been preoccupied thinking of another shot.

What will you see today?

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