Pilgrimage to Lake Michigan in Photographs: Day 8

Pilgrimage to Lake Michigan in Photographs: Day 8
January 17, 2014

Turns out that tonight I wasn’t the only one making a pilgrimage to Lake Michigan. I joined a band of hardy souls – diehards paying respects to the freezing lake. 18° and swirling snow made for a beautiful view but also very short battery life.

I’ve been thinking about an article I read the other day that said if you want to really remember something, you should just look at it closely and not photograph it.

This makes sense. When you start photographing you stop looking; it’s a different way of seeing.

It’s something I try to teach my students. How to look AND see. And also how photographing is different than seeing.

And it’s interesting to deepen my awareness of this myself.

When I’m teaching though, I’m not focusing on how photography can get in the way of observing, but rather I’m trying to stimulate an understanding of how to observe, and also to bring that observation into the photograph.

Of course that’s not how most of us approach it – especially when we’re snapping pictures with our iPhone. That’s more like note-taking or making a xerox copy. We figure will read it later.

One of my college professors teased us saying when you’re doing research you actually have to read the articles not just make copies of them and put them under your pillow hoping you absorb the information through osmosis.

That same article about not photographing so you remember better also said that if you do photograph and then also later review the photographs you made, your memory of what you’ve seen is richer.

It’s reassuring to know we don’t have to throw away our cameras altogether.

They say there’s a new polar vortex on its way next week, and tonight the lake really seem to be getting ready for it. A layer of ice forming under the full moon, freezing winds and fairy dust snow.

And those and determined souls down there with their iPhones making records of what they’re looking at.

I hope they’re also really seeing.

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