Photographic Paralysis: Overcoming The Negative Effect Of Familiarity

Beginning to see the world through a photographic frame can lead to some wonderful discoveries.  Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR.
Beginning to see the world through a photographic frame can lead to some wonderful discoveries. Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR.
Walking around an object before pressing the shutter can lead to some creative takes on a scene.  Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR.
Walking around an object before pressing the shutter can lead to some creative takes on a scene. Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR.

Let’s face it, not everyone can live in Paris.  Sure, come can, but this post is for the rest of us mortals who sometimes need to struggle with our familiar surroundings in order to overcome photographic paralysis.  For the creative in all of us, the numbing effect of the familiar can easily lead to a condition where the sights that are right there in front of us have become transparent to us.  We just don’t see things any more.  Think back and retrace everywhere you’ve been this week and you’ll know what I mean.  Most of us will simply not be able to describe everyone we met or everywhere we went.  To a large extent, the familiar has become transparent and has stopped registering in our consciousness.

The same with our attitude towards photography.  It is very easy to convince ourselves that there’s nothing new to photograph in the neighborhoods, towns, or cities where we have lived for so long.  It all looks the same, and probably ceased to inspire us a long time ago.  In fact, the thought of prepping your gear to go photograph something you’ve photographed many times before can be outright debilitating.  Too familiar.  Too transparent.  Ever been there?  Well, I have, and nothing good photographically comes out of it.  However, it really doesn’t have to be this way.  With a little effort on our part, we can easily overcome the negative effect of the familiar.  Convince yourself that the world around you is nothing but a huge photographic opportunity waiting for someone like you to find those photos.  Make it a point to stop and visit a place that caught your eye at some point, but which you never took the time to explore.  Find the new in the old by walking around a building instead of in front of it, by sitting in a garden and observing, and by looking all around you as if you were expecting a Mafia hit at any time.  Slow down, use your feet, dare to walk into empty spaces, and imagine.  If anything, you’ll have lots of fun in the process.