Since my background is in art and not photography, I studied Art History; among other areas in this field. My favorite painters were the Impressionists, and one of my favorite painters was one of the founders of that movement named Claude Monet. Actually, I really loved all of the Impressionist painters mainly because they saw things differently than the painters that preceded them, and as a result were not accepted for quite a while.

They broke all the rules and as I now tell my fellow photographers that I teach or mentor to.learn all the rules of photography, then as fast as you can… forget about them as they will most certainly lead you down the one way, one lane path to mediocrity…why you ask???? Because rules are impediments that will block your chances of ever observing the environment around you through better vision.

Monet said, ” In order to see, we must forget the name of the thing we’re looking at.”

In my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the planet, I talk a whole lot on being able to “see past impressions”. In fact, it’s one of my many mantras and it can be so hard to do for people that have spent the majority of their life seeing and doing things with their left brain.

First, a disclaimer: There are those out there that suggest that this is a distorted myth…psycho babble. However, most psychologists agree that there’s enough basis in facts to accept it.

You see, the left side of your brain is the analytical side. Left-brained people tend to be more logical and objective, and rarely see any artistic content. Their photos will tend to be those that are “for the record”. It’s the linear way or the highway for them!!! The right-brained person tends to be more creative, expressive,  and intuitive. Ok, just how does this have anything to do with Monet or my approach to teaching people how to see past their first impressions?

In the photo above, a left-brainer will look up and see a group of traffic signs directing you to either go, avoid, or do something. When I first looked up I immediately saw shapes, as in triangles and one circle. I saw these shapes because for years I’ve trained my eye to “see past my first impression”. As a result I composed my photo to accentuate these important shapes…since Shape is a basic element of Visual Design.

The next time you go out don’t just look at the labels, be sure to taste what’s inside…see past your first impression.


Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

The Use of Gestalt in Photography