Mel Collie


How to align your eye and mind

One of the assignments in our workshops is how to be a human camera. Why bother with this one?

Most of the time we see the world through a filter of the thinking mind. This can cloud our decision of when to press the shutter.

Its a bit weird so bring an open mind, this is how it works.

Put away your camera, because we will be taking pictures with you as the camera.

During it, the main point is to experience a flash of perception. A quick opening and closing of the eyes, to short circuit the thinking process.

The more you practice the more vivd flashes of perception you will notice.

Practice wherever you want to practice, theres no special place you have to be.

1. Standing up, close your eyes. Turn 180 degrees.
2. Keeping still and the eyes closed for about 30 seconds, listen to any sounds around you.
3. Open your eyes, just for a few seconds, then close them again.
4. Turn 90 degrees.
5. Keeping the eyes closed, allow your face to be pointed towards the floor. Open your eyes for a few seconds, the close them again
6. Turn 180 degrees.
7. Allow your face to be upwards this time towards the ceiling/sky. Pause for about 30 seconds,
8. Open your eyes for a few seconds, then close them again.
9. Turn 90 degrees. Pause for a few seconds. Open and close your eyes again.

Maybe one of the things you notice was how unsteady you feel with your eyes close. that will go when you practice more.

So whats the point? What will this help you with?

The flashes of perception you have when you open and close your eyes quickly, what you see. What you don't see. What labels you attach to them.

As you practice, the labelling of what you see begins to diminish, as your shutter speed is fast, the eyes only open and close quickly.

The quickness of the eyes opening and closing short circuits the over thinking brain.

It doesn't take long for the thinking mind to kick in, so if you do find that you need to really quicken the pace of opening and closing your eyes, then do so.

When I first practiced this, I noticed that opening and closing my eyes for a second was too long, it had to be a lot quicker, so it was literally just a glimpse. It had to be at a speed that was too quick to begin to label what I saw as a lamp, wall, sofa, tree, ocean, hill, chair, cooker - depending on where I was at the time.

Think that you have to see something special? Give up on that expectation
Think that you have to look for something in particular? Give up on that expectation.
Think that you have to see something to photograph? Give up on that expectation too.

The more expectations your thinking mind has to less you will see.

Allow the body to stay relaxed ~ be aware of any tight shoulders, breath holding, curled up toes, tight clenched jaw, these are all natural compensations when we feel unsure and anxious about outcomes.

Knowing what is, and what is not is the basis of mindfulness photography. Aligning the eye and the mind.

Your mind might be elsewhere as the eyes see, the eyes seeing, the mind busy labelling, recalling memories, judging what it sees, discounting what it sees.

Aligning them both brings you back to here and now, without wandering into the past or the future. Without distractions you are here, seeing, without preconceptions, without layers of labelling.

We've been with those layers for so long we don't even know we have them.
Bringing an awareness to them takes practice.

This exercise is a good place to begin to align the eyes, and the mind.

Mel Collie

Melanie CollieComment