Inspiration short #5: Take a photo walk and practice really seeing

by Danielle Charles

The more you look, the more inquisitive you are, the more you are bound to see.” Chogyam Trungpa

Everyday, we experience a world that is full of intricate and wondrous details – details of the most exquisite and remarkable beauty –  but details that we quite often overlook. Rather than experience this great world that we we’re born into,  we push through life like pack mules, heads down and oblivious, distracted by insignificant worries and fears from the magic and beauty that surrounds us. It hasn’t always been this way, however.

Once, we we’re masters at collecting details, at finding the small expressions of magic hidden in the everyday world of our experience. As children, being in the moment just came naturally.  I remember wondering around my backyard for hours as a child – collecting leaves of different colors, watching caterpillars inch their way through the grass, noticing the silvery way that rain drops on tree branches captured  the light.   There was no sense of urgency, no guilt ridden need to always be productive or accomplishing something, there was only each small moment and the leisure to explore all the little treasures it contained.

What if we allowed ourselves to experience the world like that again? Certainly, it may not be realistic or healthy to revert completely back to the lack of responsibility we knew as children – but it would be wonderful if we could find some small way to practice really seeing our world.

This week, the inspiration short is all about practicing attention to detail – and what better way to do so than through the lens of a camera? Take a walk in a place extremely familiar to you – someplace you go or pass by everyday, but rarely have the time to really explore – it could be your backyard, a busy street corner, a path in the woods, a road you drive down each day. As you walk, allow yourself to get lost in the details, and take pictures of all of them.  Look for beautiful colors, unusual shadows or reflections, beautiful light and unusual contrasts of shape. Zoom in, look for the smallest details, take the time to really see. This is your collection of personal treasures, your documentary of the fabric of your world.

As Chogyam Trungpa says in the quote above, when you really start looking, you will see so much. Everywhere you will notice things you have never before seen – things of immense beauty and strangeness, things of utmost magic. And as you continue to embrace the feast of color and brilliant detail before you, you will likely find those urgent thoughts and worries that distracted you from all this beauty before  aren’t quite so important or huge, and possibly altogether unnecessary.

Below is my collection of photos from a recent photo walk I took. If you have photos from your own walk, I’d be so honored if you’d share a few with me here – it would be a profound thing to have a collection of everyone’s collected detail treasures. You could also do something fun I have always wanted to try – and get a long distance friend to go on a photo walk as well. Exchange pictures so that you can see the details of each other’s life and your unique way of experiencing the world.

Have fun!