More ‘I’ than ‘Eye’


“The inner eye bridges the turbulent waters between the seeing eye and the ‘I’.”

This story was originally published in March 2012.

Photography begins with the ‘seeing eye’, but the eye does not really make the picture. The eye that sees the world as it exists is different from the inner eye that visualises it as it should be. In fact, the perfect moment is always captured in the brain before it has occurred. The body simply follows through with the action of releasing the shutter.

It is important to understand the human physicality behind the creation of a photograph. Once that happens, we realise that the physics of it, as incredibly brilliant and intricate as it may be, is indeed a limited part of the process. The camera is but a secondary tool in the lineup of the way things work. Our bodies serve the primary function of moving our eye to a previsualised point to review the frame… as we have already seen it. While the ‘seeing eye’ sees in perspective, the ‘inner eye’ sees in juxtaposition. The seeing eye is linear. The inner eye is roving. The inner eye bridges the turbulent waters between the seeing eye and the ‘I’.

Where is the ‘I’? Social scientists might define the ‘I’ as a combination of our genetics with everything we have already experienced, seen, felt and thought so far. Spiritualists might say that there is much more to the ‘I’… that the I is not just the brain, but the soul. With time, we can train the eye to see because there are photographic rules and guideline formulated for it. Training the ‘I’, on the other hand, is almost impossible. The ‘I’ comes already conditioned, influenced, prejudiced, and trained by an inescapable past. Despite all the training we may give the eye, each of our images will be very, very different, because of the ‘I’.

Training the eye is essential. It restrains us, allowing us to articulate our ideas with a visual language. As students of the art, we should be disciplined enough to let the ‘I’ move past the eye, so that our images, with all their imperfections, make profoundly personal, visibly clear statements.

— K Madhavan Pillai
Better Photography


Tags: K Madhavan Pillai, better photography, July 2011, seeing, brain, I, eye, training, articulation, visual, language, grammar, personal, statements, imperfections, Spiritual, experiences, soul,, K Madhavan Pillai Editor