See this article for a fascinating discussion of inattentional blindness: Inattentional Blindness and Conspicuity

It says in essence that our mind discards the majority of things we perceive before they reach the conscious mind so that our conscious mind is only presented with relevant and important information. The problem though is that sometimes we miss the important even though it is in plain view and the article gives many examples of this. This is called inattentional blindness.

So my question is this: does the same thing happen to photographers and does the same process prevent us from seeing fresh photo opportunities. If so, how can we break through this barrier so that we keep our vision fresh and alive?



I was actually just noticing this yesterday. I was comparing my photos I take now from those I took 2 years ago. Aside from the obvious stuff, like different location, better technical skills, etc, I was trying to figure out what I used to do differently. I was better then than I am now of paying attention to tiny details that make interesting photographs. An unusual looking rock on the dirt. Branches that look different than the surrounding land. Stuff like that. I now have a name to go along with that capability.

One of the biggest ways to see fresh opportunities is to go somewhere you normally don't go, or do something you normally don't do. If you're a landscape photographer, go to a park and photograph random people. If you are a fashion photographer, go photograph plants. Do something you aren't used to. This will get you back into looking for those unusual opportunities, both in your new area, as well as in an older area.

Another good idea is to take someone that you normally don't take when photographing. Kids work really well for this, they'll give you a very unique perspective.

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    These are some great ideas. – labnut Mar 28 '11 at 19:19

Most of us develop favorite subjects or activities after shooting a while and we gravitate to the same lens to do it. That leads to a rut.

Break up the routine:

  • Adjust your camera to shoot black and white in-camera.
  • Refuse to use your "go-to" lens and go wide-angle or grab a macro lens. Spend several hours exploring things close up.
  • Get a tilt-shift or a LensBaby - they'll make you think differently.
  • Leave the SLR at home and shoot artistically using a point-and-shoot or your camera-phone.
  • Get a good LED flashlight, find some interesting objects, and spend time working on light painting in the closet or somewhere equally dark.
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