Some artists see inspiration everywhere in everything but others need to seek it out. For photographer Caroline Jensen inspiration did not come easily. Despite having four children and living on a the gorgeous Minnesota prairie, Caroline found that she did not truly grow into a photographer until she started slowing down and observing what was around her. Inspiration came in various forms: paintings; music; poems; and the details of daily life she ordinarily overlooked.
Caroline learned photography through slowing down and observing and she wants to help other photographers hone their observation skills through her course The Art of Observation that she teaches through Clickin' Moms. Caroline has some advice for everyone who wants to improve their art through observation who needs a little more inspiration to create.
1. Observation is a skill that can be cultivated and nourished. Caroline believes that observation starts with conscious awareness - isolate what you want to observe. For instance, you could spend one week spending time shooting in only one room or concentrating on one type of light, such as backlight. According to Caroline, "We learn the most when we push past boredom or what we *think* we know. This push helps to achieve breakthroughs in times of a shooting rut."
2. Observation is a skill that you take with you. Caroline recommends taking the opportunity to pause and soak in your surroundings when you are traveling. She believes that everyone should make a conscious choice to hear, see, and smell their surroundings and use this time to focus on what resonates most with you. Caroline finds that chandeliers and light fixtures are often overlooked treasures for her photography. With careful observation you will find your own hidden treasures around you.
3. Observation takes patience. Even though you are a photographer, put your camera away and focus on the act of observation. One way to do this is to create a frame with your fingers and pretend to click an image before you. Some of a photographer's best images are made in their mind prior to reaching for the camera. If you practice observing, over time you will just know when you must grab your camera. Careful observation can make image-making easy by allowing you to see the finished image in your mind prior to picking up your camera.
There is beauty all around if you take the time to observe.
All photos by Caroline Jensen.