The book The Shape of Content, by Ben Shahn, is a collection of essays based on a series of six lectures given by Shahn, an important 20th century painter, at Harvard University in the 1950s.
Through the book, we get a great sense of Shahn’s notions about how art can and should be learned and, more importantly, his belief that art cannot really be taught. In Shahn’s mind, we are human beings first; artists second. Or, in other words, we must always be living, learning, and looking.
In his book The Way of Zen, Alan Watts explains two different, mutually important, ways of using our minds and therefore our creativity, which helps to explain the potential of perception in photography:
“For we have two types of vision—central and peripheral, not unlike the spotlight and the floodlight.”
In this episode, I look at those two types of vision and see how they can be used to improve the thought process behind the photographs that we make.
You’re the photographer, not the viewer of the photographs you make. Between the making of the image and the time that the image is put out into the world for viewing, that distinction is often lost, though it’s an important one to consider for both photographers and viewers alike.
Every new idea is just a restatement of old ideas, or sometimes it’s several old ideas combined into a new one. Collecting ideas as you go along is a great way of mining new ways of thinking of things.
I use an Idea Bank to hold my ideas so I can use them at a later time.
For a long time, I’ve used a plain old folder to hold things like quotations, objects, articles, pictures and other ephemera. What I like about a physical folder is that I can pull the objects out from time to time and physically associate them with one another as I try to create new ideas out of things I’m interested in.