To See, To Feel, To Observe: To Get a Fresh Pair of Eyes

Photograph/Prashant Godbole

Photograph/Prashant Godbole

This article was originally published in May 2013.

Prashant Godbole_mugCurrently, we have over 300 million photos uploaded per day, or around 9 billion every month. There are more than 100 billion photographs on Facebook. And I haven’t got around to mentioning Pinterest, Flickr, Picasa and Instagram. We’ve become accustomed to chasing likes, shares and comments. We constantly monitor every digital update for impressions, and get excited to see the ‘Like’ count go up. I am one of those guys who chases Likes, getting excited when I receive 500 likes.

And I get questions like: Could you please review my work? Could you tell me what you think of these shots? Any suggestions? How can I improve my photography? Here is my observation.

Thanks to digital cameras, there is a rush to produce bodies of work; with very little or no understanding of what they are shooting. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Sigma, Pentax and of course Apple spend time and money promoting the ease of taking a photograph. Just push the button, and voila, you are a photographer. But in this age of point-and-shoot gratification, we must first train ourselves to see. Unfortunately, very little time and money is spent on training our eyes to see and senses to observe.

“I believe there are three kinds of men: the one that learns by reading, the few who learn by observation and the rest of whom have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers

As a species, we need to revisit the art of observation. Observation is an activity of every living being, whereby we receive knowledge of the world and our environment through our senses, which often later involves the recording of data. It is important to realise that observation is much more than merely seeing something. It also involves a mental process.

Powers of observation can be developed by cultivating the habit of watching things with an active, inquisitive mind. The key to becoming better observers of the world, through words and images, is to work with sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, to remember the impressions and experience we collect. Observing is taking the picture in your head.


Photograph/Prashant Godbole

Photograph/Prashant Godbole

“To me, photography is the art of observation. It is about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

‘Observing’ something means to understand it in a deeper way. The most important instrument of thought is the eye. Originality is simply a fresh pair of eyes. Observing people, places, and activities in the world can make us better storytellers, communicators, writers and photographers.

Observe space. Observe chaos. Observe emptiness.
Observe scene. Observe beauty. Observe drama. Observe life.
Observe beginning. Observe middle. Observe end.
Observe energy. Observe force. Observe calm.
Observe heartbreak. Observe joy. Observe indifference.
Observe right. Observe wrong. Observe neutral.
Observe rich. Observe poor. Observe weak.
Observe cause. Observe effect. Observe life.
Observe perspective. Observe 360°. Observe your point of view.
Observe dark. Observe light. Observe the space between.
Observe texture. Observe patterns. Observe shadow.
Observe geometry. Observe synchronicity. Observe accident.
Observe law. Observe wonder. Observe journey.
Observe past. Observe present. Observe the future, and capture the moment.

About Prashant Godbole
Prashant Godbole’s minimalist photographs are influenced by his background as an art director in advertising, where he has closely worked with photographers like Swapan Parekh. He says that he does not read fiction or other stories. Instead, he prefers to read a book called life.


Tags: Prashant Godbole, interviews, Observation, Perspectives, Opinions