Each year, I take small groups of students to Italy for an intense week of photography and learning. Some destinations vary, but a constant is the workshop In Search of the Personal: Photographing Southern Tuscany, where my goal is to help my students tap into their personal way of seeing the world. This past summer, seven photographers went to the same locations but came home with dramatically different images, as they saw Tuscany with their own personal style in mind.
Watching a group of students just getting started in photography reminded me about how we reach “escape velocity” in photography. Their positive experience was based on time, concentration, idea and craft.
Leaving home can not only allow you to view your personal environment with new eyes, but the new experiences you find when you’re away can also help you see the world in a different way. Here I use some examples of how something that was not inherently about being “away” prompted me to experiment with light, reflection and transparency.
As a kid, returning from my summer vacation showed me my home in a different way. Trees were bigger and the house smelled both familiar and new. Leaving home and coming back again can be a great way to invigorate the way you see. When we return home after being away, home is still the same, but we can see it with new eyes.
Years ago, I had a friend who was a professional chef. Sometimes, on his days off, he would come to my house and practice what he called “sport cooking” and I ended up applying the concept to my photography.