The Photographers Mind

A bright yellow building and its reflection in a pond produce a serene scene within a lovely park setting in Salzburg, Austria.

Do you ever find you’re out and about with your camera and things just aren’t going well. Let’s take a few moments to explore some of the variables that could effect your view of the world around you and, as a consequence, your ability to photograph it.

Great Photos are Light Dependent

The weather, time of day or year may not present the location in the same way as a fine art print or iconic postcard of the same location made under more ideal lighting.

It’s one thing to be able to make a great photo of incredible subject matter under ideal conditions, but another thing entirely to be able to make a really good photo of more banal subject matter under pretty average conditions. While a novice photographer can produce a great result under ideal circumstances, making something out of nothing is a skill that needs to be built over time. 

Still Your Mind

A bad mood can impact adversely on your enjoyment and how you perceive the world around you. If you’re stressed or overly anxious your busy mind may act as a barrier preventing you from experiencing the beauty of your surroundings.

To still the mind or, as author Eckhart Tolle explores in his book The Power of Now, to understand that “you are not your mind” is essential in breaking the mind’s control over our true selves. 

Expectations are an Obstacle to Experience

Most likely your expectations for amazing photos have prevented you seeing what that particular location has to offer. Why place extra pressure on yourself with expectations dependent upon a great sunrise when the weather is beyond your control?

By all means do your research and determine the best time to visit a particular location. But head off with the understanding that, to discover the mystery of a location, it’s often best to suppress any preconceptions or expectations.

Be organized, be on time and dress appropriately. The only thing you’ll then need to do is to remain open to any possibilities that the day and the light may present.

Photographing Beautiful Salzburg

The above photo was made in the grounds of a beautiful public park in Salzburg, Austria. It’s a lovely space, filled with pools and fountains, where green is very much the dominant color.

Unfortunately, while I’d left my hotel in lovely summer sunshine, by the time my day’s journey had reached the park the weather had turned 180 degrees. It was cold and raining, but thankfully not windy. The park was so beautiful that I determined to continue photographing. And I’m so glad that I did. I sheltered under the canopy provided by large trees, titled my camera downwards so as to keep the lens dry, and made a series of quiet gentle, melancholic images.

Determining Mood

The bright yellow of the building and its reflection in the above image provided both color contrast and a more positive feel than is present in many of the other photos from this location. I think that proves that the mood and, ultimately, the success of your photo is determined by the following:

  • the light you’re photographing under
  • the subject matter within the frame
  • your own mood, which often determines what and how you go about making your photos    

A Message to Remember

Remember it’s not the location, but your experience of that location that will make your photos unique and memorable. Be less concerned with accurately documenting what you see in front of you and employ photography to explore how you feel about what you see.

One Final Tip for the Creative Soul

In a world where the hardest thing in life is often getting out of bed, don’t forget to set your alarm clock.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru