Part Five: Getting in the Zone

baby-on-floor-1024x683 For Photographers

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all human ordinary life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heartbeat, and we should die of that roar that lies on the other side of silence” – George Eliot

In part two we talked about the slumber of being human — how so often we sleep walk through our days, going through the motions but our senses never fully awake. As photographers, we feel most alive with a camera in our hands. In the moment before we press the shutter…


First we have to take a long look at the real. Whether I’m photographing clients or my own kids, I try to allow the scene before me to breathe first. In English we “take pictures” as if someone else might take them from us. I want to honor the moment not by taking it but by receiving it. Every sense is turned on and I’m keenly aware of…the light, the laughter, the love.


Attentiveness makes space to ignite awe. Through awe we re-claim childlike wonder. Children expect inspiration at every moment. They live in the sheer thrill of life – it’s what exhausts parents! They also don’t carry baggage…all of life is play and there’s only the moment right in front of them. As our attentiveness gives way to awe, it’s the same. We expect inspiration and become a blank slate for the moment in front of us begging to be immortalized….and enjoyed!


Next we allow that awe to transform into thanks. Gratitude to the Creative Source expressing itself through us. True appreciation brings humility. We need to get out of our own way so we can listen to the work and go where it tells us to go. This is the hardest step of all. When we’re too big in our own picture, our subjects/clients become too small in theirs.


Every camera has an actuation count – the number of times the shutter has been opened then rapidly closed. I love that the photography world chose a word that means at its fullest “to impel”. The final step is, of course, actualizing the camera…pressing the shutter….impelling the moment to freeze and the world to stop spinning for as small as 1/250 of a second. 

These steps are instantaneous and intersecting. With practice they aren’t even conscious. It’s a flow that for me feels first like a warm rush then a giving way to the mystery. 

Here’s the thing…while these steps will uncloud your vision, this isn’t a recipe intended for your successes as an artist. It’s a recipe I share so you can better better love the subject of your photography, which brings me to…


love amy xo


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *