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Tutorials to get you skilled

Extremely Essential Camera Skills
Incredibly Important Composition Skills
Super Photo Editing Skills
Simple Wedding Photography
Really Easy Retouching
Awesome Album Design Skills
Before / After
Before/After: Black & White
The Creativity Field Guide
Backup or Die
How We Did It: Lobster Island

The #1 Way Photography Can Change Your Life

The #1 Way Photography Can Change Your Life

There are a lot of obvious ways that photography can change your life. It can take you to exotic locales. It can connect with you people. It can be a way to help others. It can make you money.

And then there’s this one subtle way, and I’d argue it is more impactful than all the others combined.

It’s not flashy. It won’t win you fame and fortune. But it can completely change your life – every single minute of it. 


This is a concept that’s been swirling around in my brain for some time now. I’m nervous about sharing it with you. Not because I don’t think it’s an important idea. But because I feel like I only have scratched the surface. It’s a profoundly simple concept with unbelievably far reaching potential. I wanted to have a better handle on it, and I thought I needed to be an expert before I could share it.

But I’ve realized that the most important part of this idea is simply to be aware of it. Where it takes you (and me) from there is up to us. The essential thing is that we start to think about it.

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So here we go.

The way photography can completely transform your every waking moment is that it can help you to become more aware of each of those moments. 

It’s About Presence

This is the concept of presence – paying full attention to your present experience. You aren’t worried about tomorrow. You aren’t dwelling on yesterday. You are here, now, 100%.

It’s the easiest thing, and the hardest thing. Try it right now. Take 5 minutes to just be present. Go!

How long did it take for your mind to wander? Your attention to be pulled elsewhere? If you’re like me, it’s approximately 10 seconds. Maybe 30 seconds on a good day.

But put a camera in my hand, and once I start shooting, I’m in it. I’m focused. I can go for ages without ever thinking about email, my to-do list, or even food (and that’s a big deal for me!).

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Photography brings me fully into the present, because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about capturing that moment in front of you, and figuring out the best way to do it.

Here’s How It Changes Everything

So how does that change your life?

Here’s what I think. I think that one of the easiest (and hardest) ways to enjoy your life more is to simply be more present in it. 

How do you do that? Try this out.

Can you see the sunlight where you are? Can you marvel at it’s beauty and life-giving power? Or maybe it’s raining. How does it sound? Are there puddles creating amazing reflections? Rain drops splashing?

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Maybe you’re in an office. Can you see all the lines around you? Can you spot a great composition that they create?

If there are people around you, can you take 2 quiet minutes to observe them? Can you comprehend the amazing complexity of your fellow human beings?

Is there music playing? Don’t just tune it out. Can you stop and appreciate not just the beauty of music, but all the work that went into getting that music recorded and into your room?

How about your clothes? Consider their colours. Really feel the textures that you normally ignore. Then take a second to think about the journey that they took to get to you, from growing the cotton, picking it, transporting, designing, sewing, distributing, marketing, selling…

If you took a few minutes to try out any of these exercises, I hope you were filled with some mind-blowing wonder. There is so much to be aware of in our present moment that we usually ignore. We live in our minds, instead of in the physical world around us.

Photography can change that.

When you pick up your camera, you’re getting a top-notch exercise in being present. When you put your eye to the viewfinder, you stop thinking about anything but what enters your frame. You study the light. You notice the lines. You hunt for colours. You see all of the people, their expressions, their postures, their interactions.

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It’s incredible. Try it. Bring your camera up to your eye (or use your hands as a makeshift frame if your camera isn’t in reach). See how your attention changes when you’re shooting. Everything becomes an object of potential – the potential to add beauty or meaning to your photo.

Take It Outside of Your Photography

But you don’t need to wait until your camera is in your hands to be present. You can take what you do when you’re shooting, and learn to apply it to every moment.

Photography gives you an amazing way to practice. One of the best ways, I think. When you’re shooting, really work on your attention. Be sure that you’re completely focused on what you’re capturing.

Then take that skill out of the photography world, and into the every day. Start to pay attention to where you are, what you’re doing, and who is around you.

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Hey, at the very least it will help make you a better photographer. The more you can recognize remarkable light, lines, colour, shapes, scenes, moments, or action without your camera, the faster you’ll be able to notice and capture them when you are shooting.

But, the big life changing thing is that if you’re spending your day noticing, experiencing, and appreciating these things, well, I think you’re going to find you enjoy your day a whole lot more. Each and every day.

The days that go just as planned, and the days that go off course – they’re all filled with beauty and wonder. They all take place in this truly remarkable world.

We just have to learn to notice.

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Back in time!

To the future!

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

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Extremely Essential Camera Skills

Extremely Essential Camera Skills

A multi-media tutorial designed to help you get control over your camera, and get creative and confident with your photography.

Learn more →

Discussion

15 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. Lauren! I loved this post. I’m trying to focus on mindfulness and being present, so this post struck home. I’m also working through your composition tutorial, and I love how I’m noticing lines and shapes and frames more and more. It’s helping! I also have a question. I have a cropped sensor DSLR (wanting to upgrade to full-frame SO badly, but not in the budget right now). I also use a 50mm f/1.8 exclusively. While it works great for most things (portraits, everyday use), it’s a little too cropped for traveling. What lens (on the more inexpensive side….I do like primes) would you recommend? Thanks in advance!

  2. This is so very true. I am so much more aware of my surroundings since I took up photography and really started to understand it but it’s been a long journey to get to this point. When I first started learning how to use my camera, it was all about capturing those shots and so I spent a lot of time with the camera up in front of my face. It’s only as I’ve got more experience that I find myself taking less photographs and spending more time enjoying my surroundings and really experiencing what I’m seeing whilst occasionally getting a shot that I want.

    A great post Lauren. Really enjoyed reading this :-)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thanks for the lovely comment Sarah! You make an excellent point – at first with photography your camera is always up. After a while it’s quite enjoyable to just experience without always needing to shoot. It’s a balance that I’m always working on, but it sure is amazing to be so much more aware!

  3. I love this post, and that is exactly how I feel when I take photos. I am focused.
    Emma

  4. Great article, very insightful, and totally agree with you…I am learning to be more aware and mindful, as I recover from ME, as stress and a busy mind is not good for my symptoms but in everyday life we are too technology connected and not aware of what is going on around us, as you say photography helps this because we have to look, we want to find potential shots in what we see, we see the colour, lines and light more. Photography stops you thinking about the to do list and helps you appreciate life more and clear a stressed and over active mind.
    I am looking forward to reading your composition book, but due to my ME am unable to focus on it at the moment… Learning to listen to my mind and body and rest is important to my recovery and in the long run will give me more energy to,focus on my photography.
    Thank you for great article
    Michelle x

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Hi Michelle! So sorry to hear of your illness, but it sounds like you are taking a great approach to recovery. Listening to our minds and bodies isn’t something that comes easily anymore, because we’re so distracted! I know that’s definitely something I struggle with, but I’m working on changing it, and photography helps! Hope you feel better soon!

  5. Melanie says:

    Such a wonderful lesson. Thank you for this post!

  6. Amen, sister. I actually was observing this exact same concept yesterday. Huzzah, were we related in a past life? A lot of the amazing things on your blog have passed through my mind more than once and now I can’t get enough of this blog omg. Keep fueling my passion with these posts!

  7. Lesley O'Neil says:

    All extremely well expressed!

    You have put into words why I have loved photography since getting my own first camera—a Brownie Hawkeye, which I still have—a little over 60 years ago. Making photos for so many years, both as an avocation and, for a time, a profession, has given me the ability to be ‘in the moment’ with my surroundings.

    This mindfulness is with me even when I don’t have a camera actually in my hand. (I’ve carried a camera 24/7 for decades now, that having been made so much easier with the arrival of my first digital in late 1997.) This ability has also kept me grounded through the illnesses and deaths of my parents and my husband, in a way that nothing else could, and continues to enhance every moment of the day, no matter what I am doing.

    Learning to truly ‘see’ our world and our life is a gift and photography can enhance it.

    Thank you for your evocative post, Lauren!

    • Bill Griffith says:

      Hi Lauren
      You’ve done it again. Good mind opening thoughts. Maybe you can use this one in your speel';
      “Today is the tomorrow you dreamed about yesterday”

      and one from one of my fifteen year old students;

      ” Pain is temporary – quitting is permanent ”
      ( I don’t know who is teaching who what !”)

      Bill

  8. It is so true what you said about where we live most of the time ie. in our minds. No doubt that as soon as you pick up the camera you switch to your present physical. Photography has taught me to appreciate my surrounding more than ever before. Photography has taught me to absorb in depth what it is that I am looking at and how it would appear on screen. I am still reading the composition tutorial and it has made me more conscience (“present”) then just having it in my sub-consciences mind about lines, curves etc. I had an addition to the family a toy poodle hence I have not been able to complete the Composition Tutorial…..but I intend to complete it in the near future.

  9. Amrit Sharma says:

    Hi Lauren really appreciate the points which you have put up I am an amateur photographer and bought my first camera through my savings and have somehow realized that the viewfinder can actually change the whole perspective of your life. Many of my friends have pointed out to me that i just zone out whenever i am behind the camera. One thing i really agree that once you take photography seriously you became a lot more positive and a very keen observant of your surroundings.
    Although still struggling with few basic hiccups not able to take out much time, few technical glitches, equipment’s limitation but learning from my mistakes and sticking to promise which i made after a month of buying my camera that One shot atleast each day no matters where I am or what is the situation still going ahead with that for last seven months and hope to continue that ahead.
    Would really love to read & see more of your stuff in future.

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