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The process of composing a captivating image has to start somewhere, yet so often we’re not quite sure where to begin. The temptation to capture everything often leaves an image feeling isolated and detached from the original experience that inspired you. Consider that as photographers we are taking in information through all fives sense, sometimes consciously, but more often than not subconsciously.

One technique I use and recommend to help you gain some clarity about where to start is to ask yourself the following questions as you explore a location:

  • What do I notice?
  • What am I wondering about?
  • What does this remind me of?

You can also phrase them as statements:

  • I notice…
  • I wonder…
  • It reminds me of…

This type of exercise can often help to clarify your vision and start to notice what really interests you at that moment. The idea is to become aware of what you’re really seeing, and grab hold of any idea that might lead to stronger, clearer ideas.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says that curiosity is the key to that creative spark that we value and seek.

“But in that moment, if you can pause and identify even one tiny speck of interest in something, then curiosity will ask you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look at the thing a wee bit closer.”

How often have you turned your head to look at something just a bit longer, but decided it wasn’t worth the time to explore? It may not yield anything visually captivating, but it might also be the beginning of a compositional “thread” that leads to something meaningful.

Never underestimate your own sense of intuition and curiosity, it’s what makes you different from everyone else.

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